Lawrence school board increases substitute pay to stay competitive with surrounding districts

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

Lawrence Public Schools district offices pictured in April 2021.

Calling it a “huge investment” in the district’s teaching staff, Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis lauded a second round of pay increases for substitute teachers during Monday night’s school board meeting.

The daily pay for substitute teachers working at least six hours jumped from $105 to $115 in August, and it will increase to $135 beginning with the spring semester. The daily pay for long-term substitutes increased from $130 to $140 in August, and it will hit $160 in the spring.

The wage hikes are meant to keep the district competitive with surrounding areas, but Lewis said the increase would also “lessen the burden” on the district’s teaching staff as a whole. He described teachers being apprehensive about taking time off when sick because of potentially inadequate staffing.

“And that’s not fair to them,” he said. “So with this increase in the sub rate, I think we are investing in all of our staff.”

The Journal-World reached out to the Lawrence district for information on the number of substitute teachers in the district on an average day, as well as how many positions currently are going unfilled. However, the district’s human resources staff was unavailable Tuesday.

Substitute pay in the smaller nearby Baldwin City school district is $120 per day and $145 for long-term subs, said Megan Johnson, the Baldwin City district’s human resources director and board clerk.

“When we looked into raising our pay, we looked at everybody around us and even those that aren’t that close to really being around us,” Johnson said.

The Baldwin City district is typically in need of eight to 10 substitute teachers daily, with the number slightly increasing around holidays and on Fridays, Johnson said.

Johnson said that recent wage increases for substitute teachers have better positioned the district to remain competitive with surrounding areas. Even with wage increases, Johnson said that it’s never a perfect world when it comes to filling substitute positions.

“I don’t believe anybody is ever in a good position when it comes to subs,” she said. “Subs are always needed.”

Johnson said that the need for subs was slightly greater at the high school level, primarily because there are more teachers and courses, but she added that “younger elementary school positions” are also a need.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Temporary Emergency Authorized License, or TEAL, program was approved in January 2022 to alleviate a statewide substitute teacher shortage.

Before TEAL, substitutes were required to complete 60 credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university. After TEAL, most Kansas adults with at least a high school diploma could apply for a license. In May, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to extend the lower requirements through June 2025.


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