AISD increasing salaries for substitute teachers to make up for shortage

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Effective Nov. 1, substitute teacher pay rates in the Austin Independent School District will increase by $10 per day.

Salaries will go up to $85 for non-degreed subs, $90 for those with degrees and $95 for degree-certified substitutes.

This comes as AISD has seen an increase in substitute vacancies to fill-in for teachers who are sick, on leave, or using personal or professional days, among other reasons.

Historically, AISD has been able to fill these types of vacancies more than 88% of the time. Currently, the substitute teacher fill rate is around 82%.

“Human Capital will be increasing the AISD substitute pay rate by $10 per day to better align with our local peers,” officials with the district told KXAN.

Jacob Reach, the chief of staff for AISD, said teachers are the lifeblood of the district. He wants to ensure there are enough substitutes to provide sufficient backup when needed.

“We recognize that to be more competitive, we need to increase that pay,” Dr. Reach said. “We want to make sure the lessons are continuing, students are continuing to be engaged and we can continue to build on the curriculum and the work going on in the classroom.”

According to data gathered by the Texas Association of School Boards, most districts in the area pay at least $95 per day. Lake Travis and Eanes ISD pay more than that.

AISD’s own analysis found the median rate in the area is also $95 per day.

Ken Zarifis, the president of Education Austin, the employee’s union for AISD, said a $10 increase isn’t sufficient and won’t attract additional hires like the district hopes.

He said teachers are more likely to choose other school districts with a more competitive pay.

“When you pay $80 a day to manage a seventh or eighth grade classroom, that’s not nearly enough. You can go to Dairy Queen to make more money.” Zarifis said. “There needs to be a much more significant increase in sub pay if the district really wants to fill those positions. Otherwise, they will continue to go empty.”

Zarifis said a base pay of at least $100 per day is the goal. He would also like to negotiate for additional compensation for teachers and TAs who fill in for their colleagues when subs are not available.

“You don’t want your teachers and your TAs to be your sub pool. You want to make sure your teachers and TAs are in their classrooms doing the work they need to do and that the district gets enough subs to fill their spots,” Zarifis said.

Reach said the $10 bump is the district’s benchmark for Nov. 1, but they will continue to consider the numbers for the future. He also said the district makes up for the lower pay through training and the level of care with which they provide their staff.

“It’s certainly not an idea that ‘now we are good.’ We want to continue to visit it,” Reach said.

Impact on students

There are 129 schools and 83,000 students at the AISD. Zarifis said that translates to a demand of at least 600 substitutes each day.

When there is a shortage, Zarifis said students will suffer.

Alexander Celia-Juarez and Sebastian Celia-Juarez, two brothers attending Austin High, said they can see the shortage first hand.

Alexander, a senior, said he will often have the same substitute teacher, for several periods in a row, no matter the subject.

“Teachers are already worn out. They are tired, for sure, because of all that work and the stress they’ve been through,” Alexander Celia-Juarez said.

Sebastian, a sophomore, said he wished more substitutes were knowledgeable and passionate about the subjects they are filling-in for. He said a poor substitute will make his work suffer or leads the students to slack-off.

“We’ll do the work, but not the way the teacher wanted us to do it. Not correctly, because they don’t really explain it to us,” Sebastian Celia-Juarez said.

Becoming a sub

In order to be a substitute teacher at AISD, you do not need a bachelor’s degree. But you will be paid higher if you have additional education.

AISD requires you to apply online and go through a fingerprint background check. You’ll also need to complete new-hire documentation, attend substitute teacher orientation and provide official transcripts.

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