District boosts pay for substitute teachers

The School Board passed the measure hoping to attract more substitute teachers.
Posted on 10/12/2020
Drawing that shows a teacher in front of a board that says "Substitute Today."

By Gary Weckselblatt

The Quakertown Community School District is significantly increasing pay for substitute teachers for the 2020-21 school year.

The per diem rate is being raised from $105 to $120 per day. Long term per diem pay is being raised from $140 to $175 per day, highest in the area. The School Board passed the measure on October 8.

The average per diem rate in Bucks County and surrounding districts is $109. The long term substitute rate is $125.

Substitute Teacher Data Update

“Substitutes are very important,” Board President Kaylyn Mitchell said, adding that during the COVID-19 pandemic, “we have teachers taking leave (Families First Coronavirus Response Act). We need to be competitive in the market and be an attractive place for substitute teachers. I feel we have to change our strategy.”

Mrs. Mitchell noted that with more teachers retiring than expected, the district has money for this short-term cost. “We need to make sure we’re maintaining continuity in our classrooms,” she said. “If we don’t have enough teachers we can’t keep schools open. I believe we need to be more aggressive in terms of what we’re offering due to the circumstances that we’re in.”

School Director David Ochmanowicz Jr. said “If you tell someone they’re going to make X amount more money everyday for 60 days, they’re more likely to come with us sooner.”

This school year, QCSD has needed, on average, 19 substitutes per day, compared with 11 during the same period a year ago. The district has, on average, filled 12 of those openings, seven short of the need.

Zachary Schoch, the district’s Chief Operating Officer, said he doesn’t know if money alone will solve the substitute shortage. “Most of our problem is there isn’t a significant enough candidate pool to pull from,” he said, but noted “The majority of our substitutes are loyal to Quakertown. More than 50 percent of our substitutes only sub with Quakertown. Increasing the rate might help. I don’t know that it will solve the challenge.”

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 [email protected].

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