2014 was a rough year for the staff at CVHS. Not only has there been understaffing in the special ed department and school administration, but there is also a constant shortage of substitute teachers this school year.
Teachers receive almost daily emails with requests for them to fill in for classes without substitute teachers during their prep periods. Sometimes teachers may receive phone calls that request their help directly.
According to union representative and history teacher Mark Mladinich, the prep period is a crucial hour for teachers to prepare for classes. It is the time where they photocopy papers, plan lessons, grade papers, and collaborate with other teachers.
“By contract they cannot be told they have to sub, so they are given a choice,” said Mladinich. The requests are “just the front office saying, ‘Hey we need help,’ but they’re not saying you have to do it.”
Teachers that offer to help out are paid for the extra hour they spend teaching at their hourly rate. Those teachers, however, must have all their lesson plans and teaching materials prepared prior to their designated hour in the day to do so.
“Most teachers are busy enough that it’s hard to give up an extra hour or two,” claimed teacher Eric Bahm, another union representative.
Teachers are generally expected to send in their requests for substitutes with at least a three-day notice and lesson plans for their substitutes if they have a planned absence. The problem with the process arises when teachers do not notify the district at least 24 hours before a sub is needed to allot for the time the school district requires to find and contact an available substitute teacher.
There are many classes with teachers that are unable to make it to school that day due to an emergency or an illness, which gives the school and district very little time to find someone capable to cover the class.
As a result, many students are required to sit in a classroom with neither a designated substitute nor a proper lesson plan despite the fact that teachers are asked to have emergency lesson plans. Some teachers are not optimistic about an improvement in the situation.
The shortage “shows that we do not have enough qualified substitutes. Unfortunately, the way to remedy that would be to maybe pay them more, but that would come out of other things at the school. It would be at the expense of either equipment or pay for teachers,” stated Bahm.
Currently, a substitute teacher in CVUSD earns about $125 per day.
“We’ll have subs at our school that are signed up in different districts,” said Principal Blaine Torpey. “They’ll take whichever job pays the most or whichever one is most convenient, so we’re doing what we can to create a work environment that encourages substitutes to want to work with our district.”
Bahm believes that since the substitutes are hired by the district, “it’s not a mistake on the school’s part; it’s more of a district issue.”