Substitute teachers are in short supply this year.
"The economy's so good that people can find more stable kinds of positions," said Marcia Bone, Lawrence public schools human resources director.
A recent survey of 22 Kansas City area school districts shows that Lawrence is not alone in suffering a substitute shortage.
"We're really just now getting where some other folks have been for a couple of years," Bone said.
The districts in the survey pay substitutes from $50 to $80 a day. Lawrence pays $74 a day to substitutes. For long-term positions -- more than five consecutive days in the same job -- Lawrence pays $102 a day.
"I don't think we lose subs to other districts for money, I think it's an issue of who calls first," Bone said.
Because most substitute teachers are seeking full-time, permanent teaching jobs, some have decided to take jobs as paraprofessionals instead. Although the pay usually is lower, paraprofessionals work in one school building -- rather than float around.
"That way, people get to know you well," Bone said.
The district's substitute pool includes only 121 people this year, compared with 149 last year.
If substitutes can't be found to cover classes, each school handles the situation differently, Bone said. Principals frequently step into classrooms. Other teachers use planning time. Sometimes, students are split among other classrooms.
Substitutes are in high demand in February because of illness.
"It's coming from all directions," Bone said.
Teachers are given 10 days of leave a year for illness. Three of those days can be used for business/emergency leave. Substitutes also are needed if teachers are involved in staff development or other school business that requires them to leave the classroom. The district provides three days of leave if an immediate family member dies.
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