Nashua schools are struggling with finding enough substitute teachers. School officials say it’s been a daily challenge for the past three years, and Nashua School District is looking at ways to address this issue.
Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Superintendent Jahmal Mosley about how the district plans to entice and retain more subs.
(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)
I know that it changes day to day as far as your needs go across the district. What are some of the steps that you, and that district in particular, are taking to fill the need now?
Well, we had a substitute teacher fair to entice and get some candidates. We interviewed about 57 candidates. We’re offering full time substitute teaching positions at our two high schools, which means that substitute teachers can come in five days a week. And with those positions, there are benefits connected to that. So there [is] an opportunity for a substitute teacher who is interested in substitute teaching full time to have benefits if that's something that they're interested in. We also are investigating for next year, for our budget [to increase] sub pay for our candidates right now. Right now we offer $65 a day. We're still in the budget process, but certainly trying to address that number to make it more competitive with some of our other districts out there. This is the first step. This is something that we're trying to address, and certainly we'll see how we get feedback on this new program that we're starting to attract and retain substitute teachers in the district.
So why do you think it has been such a struggle up to this point? You say there's 50 odd candidates this year that are looking to get placement. Why has it been a struggle, do you think?
Well, the economy has improved here in Nashua. So the candidate pool isn't what it used to be. The other thing too, when we have candidates entering into a substitute teaching position, they’re usually candidates that are looking, and exploring or questioning whether they want to get into the teaching profession. So with that said, if you're a substitute teacher and you work a couple of days, and because with such a large district, we do have other positions that become open. So for instance, if your substitute teaching at one of our schools, and there's a para position that becomes open, or sometimes a teaching position, and you’re in a teacher college and you're looking to make a transition, you're most likely going to take a teaching position as opposed to a substitute teaching position. So the substitute teaching position it can be fluid, because there are other opportunities within our district and other districts full time, and sometimes I would say more you know competitive pay, if not more pay as opposed to being a substitute teacher. So those are some of the challenges that we face in terms of securing substitute teachers.