Combating the area substitute teacher shortage

School districts are hoping the lack of substitute teachers will no longer be an issue.

On Dec. 12, the Michigan House of Representatives passed the House Bill 4069, sponsored by Jim Tedder, with a 64-45 vote. The bill addresses Michigan’s shortage of substitute teachers and will now advance to the Senate for consideration.

If passed, the bill will allow districts to lower the required credit hours for substitute teachers. Applicants would need a minimum of 60 college credit hours or to have earned an associate’s degree, instead of the current 90 credit hour standard.

According to Copper Country Intermediate School District Superintendent, George Stockero, there has been a shortage of substitute teachers for at least five years.

“Everybody in the State of Michigan has had a shortage,” said Stockero. “We would like to see the bill pass. This will make more people qualified to be substitute teachers.”

L’Anse Area Schools Superintendent, Susan Tollefson agrees with Stockero.

“We’re happy to see it move forward. It will give us more flexibility into gaining substitutes,” said Tollefson.

Stockero says the schools have been struggling to find enough teachers. Although they do get applicants, they are not all qualified at this time.

Tollefson says her district also relies on the library director, special education aides and other instructional aides, and recent retirees with substitute permits to help when they’re in need.

The CCISD has tried many different tactics to gain new teachers. “We have tried recruiting and reaching out to retired teachers,” said Stockero.

This year, “at the ISD, we increased the substitute pay rate to $90 per day from $80,” said Stockero.

L’anse area schools have been at $85 for the past two years, said Tollefson.

Both districts are hoping this bill will pass and increase their applicant pool.

“We hope that it helps and encourages people to apply,” said Tollefson.

She says it is a flexible schedule and “a lot of the substitutes really love what they do.” People who are interested and eligible can sign up online at mypesg.com.

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