SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County Board of Education has resorted to a substitute plan to find substitute teachers.
During its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, the board hired ESS Substitute Staffing Solutions as its substitute teacher provider for the remainder of the school year, starting Nov. 1
“Right now, our substitute staffing rate is about 38 percent,” Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford said before ESS representatives Dan McLaughlin and Doug Snyder presented their case to the board.
To make up for the shortfall, some teachers have been forgoing their planning periods to fill in as substitutes.
McLaughlin told the board that his company can ease its staff shortages while maintaining quality and local control.
“ESS, we partner exclusively with school districts to help manage substitute personnel,” he said. “We work with over 750 school districts across 30 states. We have over 40 school district partnerships this year in the state of Georgia.”
School districts in neighboring Chatham, Long, Screven, Toombs, Wayne and Jeff Davis counties use ESS.
In addition to boosting Effingham County’s fill rate, which has been impacted by COVID-19, ESS will work to increase Effingham County’s screened substitute pool while focusing on training and support to ensure quality.
“We want to be sure that all your classrooms are filled because we know the impact that empty classrooms have on student achievement,” McLaughlin said.
Relying on ESS will ease the burden on school secretaries who typically are left with the duty of finding substitutes when last-minute absences occur.
“We are a non-step recruiting machine,” McLaughlin said.
ESS offers incentives to substitutes, including prizes and gas cards.
The board will continue to set the pay rates and educational requirements for substitutes. Principals, teachers and substitutes can establish priority lists. District officials have the final say.
The district’s current substitute pay rates are:
— High school/GED ($65 a day)
— Bachelor’s degree ($75 a day)
— Retired/valid Georgia teaching certificate ($125 a day)
— Long term ($150 a day)
— Paraprofessional ($8.50/hour)
According to the ESS proposal, its bill rate is an “all-in” figure and there are no further costs to the district. The proposed bill rates are achieved by multiplying the substitute pay rate, either hourly or daily stipend, by a fixed markup percentage.
ESS offered a discounted bill rate of 32 percent on substitutes that are currently working within Effingham County Schools, known as “District Originals.” A District Original is deemed as any employee who has worked within the district at least one full day in the past 12 calendar months.
For all newly recruited and hired substitutes, ESS proposed a 34 percent bill rate.