‘Floater Teacher:’ QCSD creates new teaching position

The Floater Teacher idea, suggested by Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner, is part of a strategy to relieve staffing shortages.
Posted on 12/22/2022
Panther logoBy Gary Weckselblatt

The Quakertown Community School District has developed a plan it believes will relieve staffing shortages by creating a new position called “Floater Teacher,” who will be hired without a specific assignment.

Floater Teachers will have a contract and benefits like traditional teachers, but their assignments will vary day-to-day based on the needs of the school building they are assigned to and the district’s needs.

The district and teachers’ union, Quakertown Community Education Association, agreed to the new position and the School Board approved it on December 8.

Floater Teacher job description

“With a Floater in each building, you’re guaranteeing that high-quality instruction follows high-quality instruction when a teacher is out,” Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner said. “With new teachers graduating from college in December, this is a great time to find quality talent. This is part of a comprehensive strategy to give our students the best chance of success.”

In addition to Floating Teachers, QCSD has reached an agreement with the QCEA to provide virtual instruction on “Yellow Alert” days, for times a school may not have enough staff to safely open a school building for students. A Yellow Alert “warning” message will be sent to families of a particular school if there is a significant potential of not having enough staff to safely open the building for students the next day.

The idea to consider a Floater Teacher was proffered by Dr. Harner during the Nov. 3 Budget Workshop meeting. He explained to Board members that the number of teachers who completed their teacher certification requirements has dropped by two-thirds between 2010 and 2020, and suggested the Board be proactive to get ahead of the issue..

“We’re going to have a teacher shortage,” he said. “My flat-out recommendation is to get you to think strategically about where you want to be in a short period of time. We have the revenue. You can see the trends. You can look at how well we’ve been budgeting. Go after those December graduates. Go after the best of the best.

“Principals are very nervous about Yellow Days. You have the revenue. Go get quality teachers to back up our quality teachers.”

Board members attending the Budget Workshop favored the advice. Then Board President Jonathan Kern said in his industry, “slack is really important as well. That means you’re not pushing people to full capacity. If we’re able to have some extra folks in the buildings that would give slack to the system to allow for flexing and overages. Slack also lets you be innovative. If you’re always at 100 percent you’re just trying to survive.”

Charles Shermer said while he is “very conservative” when it comes to adding full-time staff, “I believe this is more than warranted.”

Todd Hippauf added, “through attrition (the Floater Teacher) is already in the school, acclimated, knows the kids. I think it’s a great idea.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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