New contractor for substitute teachers secured

Substitute teachers for the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD) have a new contractor to work through since the sudden closing of Professional Educational Services Group (PESG), which provided contracting services to school districts across Michigan.

Education Solutions Services (ESS), a company that has been used in some district schools for years to find coaches, will now be the CCISD contractor for substitute teachers.

ESS and the CCISD is encouraging potential substitute teachers to apply through their website,, to fill much-needed temporary teaching positions.

PCMI changed ownership to ESS earlier this year, and the name is being phased out gradually, according to Johnson.

PESG sent out a notice to school administrators at 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, and immediately ceased operations.

“Phones were busy that Tuesday,” said Jessica Johnson, Midwest Region manager for ESS.

According to CCISD superintendent George Stockero, the switch in substitute contractors leaves a payroll gap of four days between PESG and ESS payroll servicing, and schools are having to work out payment individually for those substitutes who worked during that time.

Stockero said some paper checks from PESG have bounced and been re-issued, but that direct deposit payments are going through without a problem.

“The vast majority have gotten their money,” he said.

PESG closed because of a $3.27 million lien filed in Kent County against them by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Oct. 9 for unpaid payroll taxes.

In an article for Crain’s Detroit, PESG attorney Ian Northon said the company had cash-flow problems exacerbated by almost $1.5 million in unpaid bills issued to school districts.

“We never missed a payment,” Stockero said.

Stockero said they use contractors like PESG and ESS to save the district money on the costs of benefits, which are instead paid through the contractor.

He said the arrangement also puts more money in their substitutes’ paychecks.

Superintendent of Baraga Area Schools Richard Sarau said he is happy to have ESS as the new contractor, and substitute arrangements in the district are being handled.