As Lawrence teachers press the district for pay raises, some substitute teachers feel a bit lost in the shuffle.
A group - who call themselves the Lawrence Organization of Substitute Teachers or L.O.S.T - will meet with district officials Monday to discuss their concerns about stagnant wages and other issues.
"We don't have a collective voice," said Sarah Magnuson, a retired teacher who now substitute teaches. "This (group) is an attempt to get a collective voice."
Substitute teachers are not in the Lawrence Education Assn. because they were not included in the union's original organization in the early 1970s, LEA President Sam Rabiola said.
Substitute teachers earn $110 per day for long-term assignments of five or more days and $82 per day for short-term assignments.
The latter figure hasn't changed since about four years ago when it moved up from $80 per day, said Mary Rodriguez, the district's human resources executive director.
Rodriguez earlier this year submitted a budget request asking for $60,000 to boost substitute teacher salaries. The school board will decide whether that request is met.
"It's a matter of priorities," board member Sue Morgan said. "We haven't really looked completely through that list (of budget requests) at this point."
L.O.S.T. was formed in March with the purpose of improving the lot of substitute teachers. But it's also aims at improving communication among them and for socializing, said Pat Hays, the group's founder.
The organization has about 25 members of which about seven regularly attend meetings, Hays said. There are about 180 substitutes on the district's list.
"There are some minor issues that we hope to get addressed, but by and large I think we're treated very well," Magnuson said.
Other issues include: access to computers and the Internet in order to retrieve emergency lesson plans or other information, possible contracts, ID badges, and extra pay for covering duties that a full-time teacher would be paid extra to do.
They also want to discuss changing their name from substitute teacher to guest teacher. It's a matter of respect.
"I'm not really a substitute," said Hays, who has been substitute teaching since losing her teaching job in layoffs in 2002. "I'm a real teacher."
Supt. Randy Weseman said the district does everything it can to make substitute teachers feel welcome.
But Lynette Hosek, a substitute for 15 years, said the district has room to improve. It could do small, inexpensive things to make substitutes feel appreciated, she said.
"There needs to be a plethora of 'thank yous' coming from the top," she said. "People need to feel that they're of value. : It's an attitude. It's a way of doing business. It is an attitude that doesn't exist in Lawrence."