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Retired teacher: Low pay, pandemic main reasons for substitute shortage


The need for substitute teachers across several Mid-Missouri school districts continues to grow causing teachers to work overtime and combine classes.

Trish Foley, a retired teacher who spent 30 years in classrooms, said the low salary many school districts offers for substitute teachers is one of the main reasons for the shortage.

Foley said she has seen the sub shortage take a toll on several school faculty, staff and teachers as they have had to take on more work.

"If there was a third-grade teacher that was absent, they will split up her class and send them to different classrooms because they can't get subs. Or they take teachers from special reading classes, cut those classes and take those teachers and stick them in a classroom," Foley said.

Todd Fuller, spokesman for the Missouri State Teachers Association, said the pandemic had taken a toll as many substitutes stopped working out of fear for their health and wellbeing.

"You had retirees that have been in those positions before and were willing to help out in a school district. They are uncomfortable doing that now, at least when they are concerned about their own safety," Fuller said.

Fuller said it is vital for school districts to be competitive with their wages for substitute teachers.

"We saw a lot of districts that were struggling to make sure they had compensation with the districts around them," Fuller said.

Starting in December, the state will lower the requirements necessary to become a substitute teacher.

"The department of elementary and secondary education has changed the number of hours that are required for substitute teacher certification from 60 to 20-hour course," Fuller said.

Foley said the change in requirements could be a dangerous situation.

"You can just take anybody with a GED, take anybody off the street and get 20 hours of online training and stick them in a classroom. That is very dangerous; something bad is going to happen there," Foley said.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.


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