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Finding a substitute teacher last minute can be an administrative headache. In one Michigan school district we talked to, Donna, an office employee, recalled when she and her co-workers would keep a substitute teacher list. When they needed a sub, they would make multiple phone calls to fill the open position. It was especially hectic when multiple teachers were out.
This year, their district contracted with a substitute teacher vendor. Donna makes one quick call to the vendor, lets them know how many subs they need for the day, and the vendor quickly fulfills their request.
The trend is moving away from direct hire substitute teachers, toward private substitute services instead. With a private company, the substitutes are hired, managed, assigned workloads, and paid in-house. The district requirements for substitutes match the vendor with regard to education, background checks, and fingerprinting.
Edustaff is one such company who is now serving about 82% of Michigan’s 550 school districts. They use technology to streamline the recruitment and training of their substitutes. Technology is also used to communicate what openings are available. Subs can sign up to receive text messages, emails, phone calls, etc. to learn when an opening is available. Substitutes can select their assignments on their own terms, choosing their days, selecting the school, etc.
Outsourcing substitute teachers has helped some Michigan school districts save money. When a substitute teacher is employed directly by the district, they must pay into the teacher retirement system. This can add 30% or more to the cost of their wages.
"The retirement burden would be the main driver of the decision to outsource," said Nick Brandon of the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. “We save about 36 percent in retirement and FICA costs.” Chippewa Valley Schools estimated that they are saving about $300,000-$400,000 a year by not handling substitutes in-house. Adam Blanchard, assistant superintendent for human resources, has also noted that outsourcing has allowed them to cut down on personnel needed to manage their substitute program. “Instead of having three people to handle that process, I have one person in the district to make sure that sub calling happens,” Blancard said. “We don’t have to have multiple people taking care of the process.”
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