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Nationwide substitute teacher shortage affects CPS

Substitute teacher shortage

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A substitute teacher shortage across the nation is affecting Columbia Public Schools.

CPS began a contract to supply substitute teachers with a new staffing company July 1. However, every substitute has to reapply with the new company. This means CPS lost the substitute teaching pool it had with the former company, Kelly Services.

EduStaff is now trying to build its pool and recruit more substitutes for CPS.

EduStaff regional director Lezlie Soda said the goal is to always fill 100 percent of the substitute spots, but that does not happen every day because of the shortage.

"We're doing OK on a day-to-day basis, but really need to grow the pool in order to be able to handle both day-to-day and days when there are large district-wide or department-wide trainings ... as well as the usual types of absences that occur with illness," CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

If a teacher calls in and there is no substitute teacher available to take that spot, other employees in the school may fill in for that teacher. Sometimes teachers may take turns filling in during their planning time.

According to the contract, substitute teachers will be paid $80 a day and long-term assignments pay $125 a day.

CPS has an operating budget of $2.5 million annually for substitute staffing.

"The employee base of substitute teachers is not nearly what it was 10 years ago," Soda said, citing fewer students studying education in college. "Consequently, they are coming out of college, they are getting jobs right away, and so they are filling the positions in the district, which don't leave them available to do substitute teaching, she added.

"We want to ensure we're putting the right people in the classrooms, we want our students to be safe of course," Soda said.

Substitutes are required to go through the same vetting process as any public school teacher in Missouri, which includes background checks and fingerprints.

To apply for a substitute teaching position with EduStaff, visit its website here.

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