Historic shortage: Lakota raises substitute teacher pay, solicits more school workers

The leader of Butler County’s largest school district said Wednesday the chronic shortage of substitute teachers during the coronavirus pandemic is not only a problem suffered by schools and a solution continues to remain elusive.

Matt Miller, superintendent of the 17,000-student Lakota Schools, said during an online public question and answer program that he welcomed the district school board’s action this week in raising the daily pay rate for substitute teachers from $85 to up to $125.

But given the difficulty many private-sector economy companies continue to have in finding workers, both Miller and officials at the Butler County Educational Services Center (BCESC) said the substitute shortages are likely to continue.

Miller then spent part of his online presentation soliciting for potential substitute teachers, along with asking for those interested in non-teaching school staffer work – such as cafeteria employee fill-ins – and bus drivers to apply for work.

“We’re putting the call out,” said Miller. “We’re hopefully trying to entice more to come out and fill those slots.”

“It’s not just a Lakota problem or a problem that is unique to the education field. It’s everywhere nationwide and I’m certainly assured that our business owners and others can attest to the (employee) shortages they are seeing as well,” he said.

Chris Brown, superintendent of the BCESC – which handles filling classroom and other substitute jobs for the county’s 10 public school systems, said “it’s the toughest it has ever been to find subs.”

Competition for workers – with many area companies offering higher hourly pay and in some cases cash bonuses for new employees – is making it harder for public schools to find temporary teachers.

“There are so many other jobs people can take and there are a lot of jobs out there that to be honest pay a little better than subs,” said Brown.

“And the other thing is still Covid,” he said of the on-going pandemic, which first shuttered all Ohio schools in March 2020 and subsequently played havoc with many school schedules during the 2020-2021 school year though has been less impact this school year.

“A lot of our subs are retired teachers, who are a little older and they have the fear of going into situations where there might be Covid (exposure),” he said.

“And when Amazon is paying $15 an hour to work with full benefits, that’s hard to compete with,” said Brown.

But he added, substitute teaching remains “a great, part-time job who people who only want to work two or three days a week.”

For information on applying to work as a substitute teacher in the county, go to Butler County Educational Services Center website.

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