CCSD students and teachers suffer due to teaching vacancies and lack of substitutes

CCSD students and teachers suffer due to teaching vacancies and lack of substitutes
October 26 20:43 2017 Print This Article

Charleston County School District (CCSD) has about 55 teaching vacancies currently listed on its website. Lowcountry Source has been told by several beginning teachers that they will not apply to teach in CCSD because of its reputation in the local community for having a difficult working environment.

Teacher vacancies are filled by substitute teachers until a certified teacher can be hired. Finding substitutes has become a major challenge for the district and having so many vacancies puts even more of a burden on the substitute teacher program. CCSD has contracted the hiring of substitute teachers to Kelly Educational Staffing. One teacher stated she can contact Kelly two weeks before she needs a substitute, and they can’t find one for her. A parent told Lowcountry Source her child’s math teacher was out, the substitute didn’t show up, and two teachers had to scramble to cover the class. They split the class up, and instead of math, the students had a second recess.

There are several reasons for the substitute shortage. Substitutes need to feel wanted, welcomed, and appreciated by the children and school administration. This frequently does not happen. Students often don’t respect substitutes and are discipline problems. A substitute will be hired to fill in for one class and then be reassigned to another class once they arrive at a school. They are asked to fill in during a planning period and get no break during the day. Finally, they are paid $8 an hour. The pay is abysmal and certainly doesn’t reflect the important responsibility of the job. A high school babysitter earns $10 – $15 an hour and will usually only have one or two children.

When a substitute doesn’t show up, the burden is on school personnel to fill in. Teachers either give up limited planning time, students can be divided up and added to other classes, or administrators, teacher assistants or teacher coaches can fill in. Another duty asked of teachers is to write lesson plans for the permanent substitutes serving in their schools. Ultimately, the students suffer.

One solution is to reduce the substitute shortage is to increase substitute teacher pay. Another solution is to offer premium pay to regular classroom teachers to cover an extra class during their planning period. These solutions would improve the morale among CCSD schools.

Robin Steinberger retired after 30 years from Charleston County School District as a high school special education teacher.  She is the education reporter for Lowcountry Source.  Please contact Robin at robin@lowcountrysource.com if you have tips to offer.  Your confidentiality will be maintained.