Durham Schools scramble to fill substitute teacher gaps

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Approximately 1,163 substitute teachers are in the district's database, but only 542 are active.

Durham Public Schools needs substitute teachers. Approximately 1,163 are in the district's database, but only 542 are active.

On Monday, DPS says 85 percent of vacant substitute slots were filled.

That meant schools had to figure out another way to fill the gaps. Some schools are shifting teachers from their planning periods to teach a class. The school district says that's a concern and wants to attract more subs.

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Right now, some substitute teachers in Durham County complain about the lack of support they receive at some Durham Schools when it comes to managing a classroom.

Another issue is the length of time it takes to get paid.

Thomas Crabtree, assistant superintendent for human resources, says it takes up to 60 days for substitutes to get a check.

"So many of our subs say that if I have a job in Durham or if I have a job in Wake County, and like both the schools, I'm going to Wake County because I get my money faster,"

That statement came out of a focus group-session this month where Crabtree and his staff asked subs why there was a shortage.

The top concern was lack of support in the classroom.

To offset that, Crabtree says there will be more staff training.

DPS is exploring the idea of adding an extra $25 to substitute teacher pay and deliver their checks every 30 days.

Currently, licensed teacher substitutes get paid $103 a day. Non-certified substitutes get paid $80 a day.

The district plans to attract candidates via social media, and possibly through an announcement on residents' utility bills.

The district is even considering hiring a third-party vendor to supply substitutes.

Stephanie Lynch, president of the PTA for Oak Grove Elementary said the district's ideas are promising.

"I think that's a start of a solution," Lynch said.

The district says the ideas are concepts it is exploring and are still under consideration.

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