Frazee-Vergas School District in desperate need of substitutes

By Barbie Porter

Editor 

Rewind to pre-COVID days and the typical number of substitute teachers on the call list at Frazee-Vergas School District held steady around 45. The  most recent count was down to seven.

During the monthly school board meeting on Monday, Dec. 13, Superintendent Terry Karger said duties typically taken on by substitutes are often being filled by teachers during their prep time. While thankful for those teachers willing to take on extra classroom duties, Karger questioned how long that practice could be sustained as teachers are being stretched beyond a reasonable workload. 

To lure more substitute teachers to the district, Karger asked the school board for an additional incentive in pay. The board obliged.

Karger explained long-term substitutes must have a teaching license. Having that licensure allows long-term substitutes to work in a single classroom for a longer duration than a short-term sub. 

A short-term substitute can teach in one  room consecutively for 15 days. Karger said on day 16 that sub would need to work in a different classroom, and then could return to the previous room for another 15 days of work. 

Karger said discussions with neighboring schools provided a potential incentive to help fill empty classrooms. The idea is to give short-term substitutes  a pay incentive if they work for longer durations in a district.  He explained from the first day through day 10 a short-term substitute receives the regular rate of $125 for each full day. On day 11 the substitute would receive $200 per day through day 15. 

On day 16, the substitute teacher may take a day off or  would need to go to a different classroom to teach, as required by statute. The cycle of pay incentive would then start over the following day. 

“It’s not earth shattering, but it is something to help,” Karger said. “We value consistency in the classroom for our kids and having the same person show up daily.”

The school board approved the request and it was noted the incentive would go into effect immediately.

Following the school board meeting more information was sought as to what qualifications a short-term substitute position requires. 

Karger emphasized substitutes are needed across the board, not just in the classroom. 

For substitute teaching short-term, one must have a four-year degree. However, substitutes for paraprofessionals, food service and custodians do not need a degree.

Anyone interested in serving in any substitute position can contact the district 334-3181 ext. 4.

“Give us a call and we will gladly get your information in the system,” Karger said.

For those considering a short-term substitute position, Karger said the process of obtaining necessary teaching credentials is quick, simple, can be done online and for a nominal fee. He added the district would consider sponsoring any substitutes who plan to work in the school district.

Once the paperwork is filed and a person is approved to be a short-term substitute, the individual would receive notification of jobs open to them on a daily basis.

The substitute can accept a position they want to fill, which allows for personal preferences. Karger said if one wanted to focus on a specific subject that matched their skill set that is an option, as is picking between teaching at the high school or elementary.

Typically, once a substitute has picked the day(s) and class he or she wants to teach, a lesson plan is waiting for them. Karger said occasionally emergencies do happen and substitutes need to “wing it.”