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Faced with Substitute Teacher Shortage, SCASD Increases Daily Pay Rates

The State College Area School Board on Monday unanimously approved a $10 increase in daily compensation for substitute teachers as the district deals with an ongoing shortage of substitutes.

Effective immediately, the daily rate increases from $95 a day to $105. The rate for district retirees increases from $125 to $135.

The daily rate for non-district retirees moves up to $120 after 20 cumulative days worked. Days already worked will be credited to the new criteria.

“The shortage of substitute teachers is a trend not only in our local area, but also across the state and nation,” district administrators wrote in a memo recommending the change. “By increasing our rates, we hope to attract substitute teachers to provide coverage in classrooms that compensates for teacher absences. As we continue through and recover from the pandemic, having every classroom covered is essential to avoid additional learning loss.”

SCASD’s previous rate for substitutes was the lowest among Centre County school districts, according to a survey included in the memo. Bellefonte offers $100 to $110; Penns Valley offers $100 with stepped increases for number of days worked; Bald Eagle offers $95 with increases after 45 days worked and 10 consecutive days; and Keystone Central offers $115 and $135 for non-retirees. Philipsburg-Osceola, which outsources its substitute hiring, was not included in the survey.

“This is a substantive improvement to where we’ve been, much more respectful to people considering substituting,” Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said. “I think the daily rate, when you think of the local non-education opportunities, gets us to be a little bit more as I said respectful for people and their time and what they do as a substitute teacher.”

In developing the new rate, the district also surveyed hourly rates offered by local businesses. Board member Scott Fozard noted that the district is, like many other employers nationwide, facing staffing struggles and urged district administrators to come back to the board if they cannot adequately fill substitute roles.

“We’re facing a nationwide staffing shortage in all areas and we’re finding, as you all know, that we’re competing with businesses now that we probably never thought that we’d be competing for labor,” Fozard said. “We’re just going to have to be very diligent to make sure our kids are getting the resources they need.”

Shai McGowan, president of the State College Area Education Association, called the increase “a step in the right direction.”

“We are very much shorthanded in the classrooms and a lot of our teachers that are having to do the grading and the planning are being pulled to cover classes and it’s exhausting them,” McGowan said.

Board member Laurel Zydney added that setting the additional increase at 20 cumulative days, rather than consecutive, may help build some consistency among the substitute pool.

“I think making it cumulative instead (of consecutive) does give people incentive to keep coming and that’s important too for the relationships they build both with their fellow staff members and with students,” Zydney said.

District job openings and applications, including for substitute teacher positions, are available here.