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Hiring 716: How a school district is raising its wages to tackle the substitute teacher shortage

Posted at 8:06 PM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 06:55:27-05
SALAMANCA N.Y. (WKBW) — Hiring 716 is WKBW's new initiative committed to highlighting job opportunities, challenges and success stories in Western New York. Learn more at Hiring716.com

At any given time the Salamanca school district needs 25 substitute teachers, according to its superintendenet. That's roughly 1/8th of its teaching body.

It's the same thing across Western New York. School districts are struggling to find substitute teachers.

According to educators, it's a multifaceted issue. There's a declining number of college students studying education, increasingly expensive certification tests, and low pay.

Two out of three of those issues are out of school district's control. That's why the Salamanca school's are tackling what it can and raising substitute teacher pay.

"It's really a supply and demand issue, and we need more subs, and that required us to invest in attracting more substitutes in terms of volume," Salamanca City Central School District Superintendent, Bob Bredenstein, said.

Before the New Year, Salamanca substitutes were making anywhere from $80-$110 per day. Now, the range is between $110-$165 per day. The more qualified the teacher the higher they can get paid. The district said it's always looking for teachers to fill in too.

7 Eyewitness talked to the Cheektowaga and Roylaton-Hartland school districts to compare wages. Both of them pay around $100 a day. That's significantly less than in Salamanca.

The price hike for Salamanca is in part due to its location. It's over an hours drive from Buffalo. When 7 Eyewitness News talked to the other districts they all said that rural schools have a tougher time finding qualified candidates. They are farther away from population centers.

"The weather conditions in Buffalo - I wouldn't want to be stranded out (in Salamanca). Actually, Buffalo is the best location for me," Shirley Sapp-Burgess, said.

She has been a substitute teacher in Buffalo for 37 years. For her long tenure she makes $133 a day. So driving down to Salamanca doesn't give her that much more bang for her buck.

Low pay isn't a new problem for Sapp-Burgess, though.

"The pay is always an issue."

She is also the vice president for the Buffalo Substitute Teachers Union. She said that the union just negotiated a new contract with the schools.

"It's better."

The raise is to the tune of $20 more than it was previously.

One of the overall issues is that pay is entirely dependent on qualifications. It makes sense. That's how many jobs are. But according to educators, it's a barrier for new teachers, especially recent college graduates, who are expecting to make more than $100 a day since they have a graduate degree and roughly $800 worth of certification tests to back them up.

If you are a teacher and want to apply, here is a link to the Salamanca school district website.