Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 22, 2014

Substitute teachers in short supply

TRAVERSE CITY — The pool of available substitute teachers is shrinking as the school year winds down, and it's putting pressure on local full-time teachers.

Traverse City Area Public Schools teachers use substitutes, or guest teachers, to cover their classrooms when they are sick or need to attend professional development workshops during the day. Officials said there are not enough substitutes available to ensure coverage for all classrooms, and full-time teachers have been asked to step in when shortages occur.

"We did have some issues lately where some rooms have found themselves uncovered and the principals in those buildings have been scrambling to ask other teachers in the building to step in," said recently resigned TCAPS board vice president Julie Puckett, who plans to seek a teaching job in the district. "Teachers are frustrated with that because they want their prep time. Parents are frustrated because sometimes kids don't get their specials."

Specials are classes such as physical education, music or foreign language. Puckett said sometimes those classes are not held if a teacher is absent and there are no qualified substitutes available.

TCAPS Executive Director of Human Resources Chris Davis said the shortage is an issue that confronts schools throughout the region, particularly in the spring when more seasonal employment opens up.

"It's normal at the end of the year that the whole area is experiencing a shortage of certified substitute teachers for the various districts," Davis said. "We're reviewing how we can recruit and retain more people to cover for us."

State school code allows substitute teachers to fill in for a maximum of 149 days before the school district must guarantee them the next available full-time position, something Davis said administrators don't always want to do. TCAPS has 177 school days on its calendar.

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