The Churchill County School Board of Trustees met last week to approve an increase in the payment of substitute teachers. The move was made to dent the critical sub shortage with regular classroom teachers sacrificing their preparation periods to cover for their absent colleagues. The current, temporary solution can cost the district nearly $350 per day and the time of every other staff member, including administrators and classified staff, who pitch in to keep students in their classrooms, learning, not simply hanging out in the library or lunchroom.
With an increase in the regular substitute pay from $100 to $130 per day and a bonus of $10 per day to subs who cover 60 - 75% of a semester, trustees hope to attract more substitutes to cover more classes.
Additionally, the long-term sub rate will jump from $133 per day, kicking in on day 20, to $180 per day, which takes effect on day one. Long-term subs in an open position that the district cannot fill with a licensed teacher will increase to $200 per day, making that sub eligible for health care and retirement benefits.
The estimated financial impact for the rest of the year is $28,945, with an annual impact of $60,000 to $100,000. According to Comptroller Kristi Fielding, the line-item budget for subs in the 2023-24 budget was $150,000, but that amount has so far been exceeded in just the first semester. She said there has been $30,362 spent to cover teachers who have subbed during their preparation periods.
“We are wearing people out from not having enough subs,” said Superintendent Derild Parsons. “We are hoping if we do this, we will ease the burden to our schools. It is an important part of the budget that we need to straighten out and then budget for.”
Board President Gregg Malkovich said the sub shortage has been a problem for nearly ten years. “I don’t think this will get us many, but if it gets us three, that’s three more than we have.”
Trustee Matt Hyde said, “We want our teachers to be ready for their classes, not using their preps to cover classes. To me, that’s the most important part of this.”
The increase took effect on February 1.
In other business, the board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Churchill County Classified Association, allowing for an increase in the bus driver salaries from Range 24 to 28 on the pay scale, transportation trainers from Range 27 to 29, and the transportation specialists move from 25 to 28, an agreement to offer full benefits to bus drivers who work at least five hours per day, and agreement that all bus driver positions offer employment of five hours per day and driver with routes that are less than five hours per day will be given tasks to meet the five-hour requirement.
Superintendent Parsons explained during his report that the principal search process for the EC Best and Churchill County Middle School positions is underway with great interest from those wishing to serve on the search committee. The application period closed on February 9, and the interview committee will meet on February 13 to review and rate the applications and send the recommendations to Parsons. Interviews will be held on February 24, and the intent is to bring a recommendation to the board at the February 28 meeting.
Parsons also explained the athletic director position is open and is a unique posting with two possibilities: one as a Teacher on Special Assignment, or if the person has an administrative endorsement, which is preferred, that ability exists to offer the position as a vice principal to serve with Principal Tim Spencer.
Trustees also approved the Augmented 2023-24 Budget, making a $5,468,643 adjustment to the initially submitted general fund, bringing the total to $42,468,801. Fielding reported that there has been a push to increase discretionary spending at the school level. After several years of cutting back these funds, the per-pupil discretionary funds for all schools were increased by 20%.
“This will allow schools to put some things back,” said Parsons. “We’ve cut over the years and cut back and back. Principals will still need to budget, but this gives them more control over what they need between now and the end of the year.”
Fielding said she had to increase the utility budget as it grows and restore funding for repairs and maintenance. She also was able to add in curricula and textbook purchases, computer lab equipment, and classroom furniture. “These are things we have not been able to do in a long while,” said Parsons.
According to the board packet, the Adjusted Base Per Pupil amount is $10,157 based on an Average Daily Enrollment of 3,179 students.