The Williamson County Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to approve an incentive bonus for substitute teachers, but several members stressed the need to up the ante even more in the way of a pay increase.
The bonus for subs was one of several items the school board passed at its regular monthly meeting at the Williamson County Administrative Complex, including the approval of a proposed zone for the district’s new middle school under construction on Hen Peck Lane.
As for the subject of substitute teachers, WCS Superintendent Jason Golden said the district wants to pay a $100 bonus for substitutes who are working at least seven days per pay period, beginning immediately. Also, it plans to pay an additional $200 bonus for substitutes working 50 days or more in a semester, beginning spring semester 2020. The district employs approximately 950 substitute teachers, but only 30% or so work six days or more per month.
Two members of the board — Brad Fiscus from District Four and Candy Emerson from District Eight — are former school teachers, and both spoke to the necessity in increasing daily rates for subs.
“I just think we are missing a very important opportunity here to tap into these veteran teachers who understand so much about education,” said Emerson, pointing out the value of teachers who have retired but want to return to the classroom as substitutes. “They’re incredible teachers. Part of the problem that creates a lot of spaces for substitutes that are not filled is the fact that our qualified, certified teachers are not paid what they equitably need to be paid.”
Fiscus made the same argument for higher pay, but he came at it from the opposite spectrum than retired teachers. He told of how those who are entering the teaching profession could benefit from exposure to the classroom through the role of a substitute teacher.
“I was a college student who knew I was going to become a teacher, and so I began substituting when I came home on Christmas break and in May at end of the semester,” Fiscus said. “The money I was paid helped, but the experience I gained was the most important part of that. This is an encouragement to the many college students we know we have who have decided to become teachers, to investigate how they can become substitute teachers.
“But I would also ask how can we increase our day rates at those different levels, to honor those people who have retired and maybe giving back, or to those who may be exploring to come out as grow-your-own teachers … and could have more training and development.”
Substitute teacher pay amounts to $4 million in the school district’s annual budget. There are four levels of pay rates for subs, starting at $70 per day for someone with only a high school diploma to a maximum of $100 each day for a certified teacher. The pay for each level increases by $5 after a substitute works for at least 20 full days and another $5 after 50 days. The rate has remained the same for about the last eight years.