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Education Station: Substitute teacher shortage plaguing schools in Northeast Ohio and nationwide

One local superintendent is trying to combat the growing pandemic-led problem of educators changing jobs and leaving widespread substitute teacher openings.

OHIO, USA — Help wanted! School districts in Northeast Ohio, and all over the country, are desperately seeking substitute teachers! 

"The lack of substitute teachers is a nationwide problem. There are countless districts going through this," says Franco Gallo, Superintendent of Lorain County’s Educational Service Center. ESC provides resources and services to school districts in several Northeast Ohio counties, including filling substitute teacher vacancies. 

"Some teachers are doubling the class up and putting students into a room, which, that’s not good, because if you have 25 kids in the class already, and you have to take that other 25 and put 8 in this classroom and 8 in this classroom and 8 in another classroom, you’re just increasing the class sizes. Teachers are feeling like they can’t take a day off, because they might not be able to get a substitute teacher, and they don't want to burden the staff. They're working when they're sick or when they should be lesson planning. It's hard," says Gallo.

Gallo says people are reconsidering teaching work, because COVID left a surplus of job openings and options in many industries that are just as desperate for workers.

"There’s people out there offering signing bonuses, flexible work schedules, working from home. Those are all things we’re competing with, and you have to still be able to teach our kids in person," says Gallo.

Gallo says the substitute teacher pool is currently down about 30 to 40% in his consortium of Cuyahoga, Medina and Lorain Counties. About 1,200 subs are on hand, compared to 1,600-1,800 before the pandemic. Districts are calling on the public for help.

"You just have to have a bachelor’s degree. It doesn't even have to be in Education. Actually some districts can pass a resolution to have people be substitute teachers who don’t even have a bachelor’s degree. And you can work in any school, on any days you choose," says Gallo.

Districts hope relaxing the criteria a bit, and adding financial and personal incentives will be the key to getting good help that’s becoming ever-harder to find. 

"There are districts right now that are offering pay in excess of $200 a day. You can work 5 days a week, 1 day a week; some are even offering benefits. We’re desperate for folks, and we really would love to have them, and I think that if people got into the profession they would really understand that it’s a great one to be in," says Gallo.

Educational Service Center is holding two Q & A zoom session for those interested in becoming a sub. Click the links below:

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