By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
Teachers lead students on their way to success, but even teachers need time off to recover or take a day to conduct their business — and it makes it more difficult for them to do that if there are no substitute teachers available.
The COVID-19 pandemic kept many people from working – and it has created a substitute shortage throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. The local elementary school districts have or will propose payday raises for substitutes to attract candidates to call on in times of need.
“We’ve lost some people during that time because people had to go find other work since they weren’t getting (in-class) work,” said Wendy Mullins, assistant director of human resources at the Castaic Union School District.
Santa Clarita Valley elementary school district boards have passed payday raises in the previous months to help incentivize substitute teachers in the area to come work for their districts.
The Castaic district approved an increase to its daily classroom substitute rate at its governing board meeting on Oct. 7. The Castaic district’s board increased its rates to $150 for a full day, $90 for a half-day and $240 for long-term assignments for subs at its TK-6 schools.
The Saugus Union School District also has current rates at $70 for a half-day, $125 for a full day, $180 for long-term assignments and they have slightly higher rates for substitutes who work in special education.
The district might propose an increase in its rates to $80 for a half-day, $140 for a full day and $200 for a long-term assignment in the future.
Newhall School District offers $140 for a full day, $80 for a half-day and offers substitute teachers who work 15 days in a trimester an additional $150, according to its substitute teacher salary schedule.
In September, the Sulphur Springs Union School District passed a temporary raise to the daily and half-day substitute rate due to the shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rates are set to expire at the end of the year.
The Sulphur Springs district raised the daily rate for substitute teachers to $225 for a full day, $123 for half-day, and $30 for its hourly rates. The rates for substitute teachers in special education are slightly higher.
As schools pivoted to distance learning for the 2020-21 school year, there was less of a need for substitutes because teachers were working from home and had flexible schedules, said Mullins.
“Once we started opening, it was a slow process because we were under a lot of restrictions,” Mullins said. “You could only have so many students in a classroom at a time.”
Now that schools are back to in-person learning, there’s a higher need for substitute teachers.
Mullins said the Castaic district is always accepting applications.
According to Mullins, school districts have an automated system that helps schedule substitute teachers when they need them at a specific campus and/or grade level.
“In general, people are having a hard time,” Mullins said. “Employers are having a hard time staffing regular positions, and it just doesn’t have to do with substitutes. It’s a way bigger issue.”