Substitute teacher shortage causing big problems for many metro school districts

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A severe substitute teacher shortage is now plaguing several metro school districts. Some schools fear the lack of subs could get bad enough that buildings can’t stay open.

If you log onto the Blue Valley district website, you’ll be greeted with a message about staffing needs. The district is desperate to fill dozens of positions in critical support roles.

“Food service, paraeducators, buildings and grounds, all areas we’re looking for qualified individuals to come join our school system to help out kids,” said Eric Punswick, Blue Valley Schools Chief Human Resources officer.

The toughest spots to fill in the metro are substitute teachers. It’s been hard to find good subs for years, as many move up to fill full-time teaching jobs. But the pandemic has only made the struggle worse, as families may juggle virtual learning for their own kids and health concerns.

“We’ve had some subs approaching this year, I think, with more caution than maybe in years past. So some of our subs have jumped right back in, and we’ve been fortunate we’ve been able to get subs in classrooms for our partner districts. But it’s definitely more of a challenge this year,” said Keith Elliott, Kelly Educational Staffing Regional Vice President of operations, and Missouri and Kansas state lead.

School districts are stepping up social media marketing and placing signs outside school building car pick-up lines to encourage people to apply. Kelly Educational Staffing says many schools are also increasing sub pay, and schools are taking lots of new safety measures to keep all staff and kids safe.

“Our mitigation factors along with PPE, we believe we have a really safe environment for our hybrid and in-person learning we have going around,” said Punswick.

But the situation is so dire, some schools say it could impact their ability to stay open. This month, Grain Valley’s board voted to stay in hybrid learning, sharing in part, “There have been days when we are operating with barely enough adults in some schools due to teacher and staff absences. If quarantine numbers for adults come at us much quicker–we won’t have enough staff to keep schools operating consistently.” https://grainvalleyschools.org/Reopening_Plan

“Even if you can spare one day a week at this point, we’d love to talk to y ou about the opportunity to substitute teach,” Elliott said.

In Kansas, you need 60 college credit hours to get an emergency sub license. In Missouri, you can have either that same amount in college credit or sign up for a new online certification program.

Kelly Educational Staffing works with several districts in both Missouri and Kansas to fill positions. You can view openings here.

You can also connect with the Kansas City area recruiter directly here.

To learn more about openings in the Blue Valley district, check this out.

More information about becoming a licensed sub in Missouri and Kansas are below:

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Kansas State Department of Education

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