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On call for substitutes

Wayne Gilman said while he was a superintendent in the Pine City School District he started using Teachers on Call to help secure substitute teachers in his district. Gilman said he was pleased with the organization. When he retired after 27 years a teacher and administrator, he started working for Teachers on Call.

Gilman was at the Feb. 20 Morris Area School Board meeting to talk about TOC. The district is exploring options to help it find enough substitute teachers. It asked TOC to provide information at a board meeting.

While school districts such as Morris Area may have a good group of substitutes, they find they don't have enough substitutes to fill the need, Gilman said.

Districts might already be using Absence Management, formerly AESOP, which is a system potential substitutes can use to see available substitute positions, and TOC can build on that.

"We pick up where Absence Management leaves off," Gilman said. If a need for a substitute happens only a few hours before school starts, "There is no morning rush to find a substitute. We call 50 people at once. The first one that responds gets it," Gilman said.

Gilman said there are several reasons why districts are having problems finding substitute teachers. Fewer students are going into education in college and pay is one reason, Gilman said. Districts have needed to increase staff professional development days which increases the need for substitute teachers and unemployment is low in state so potential substitutes may have other jobs.

TOC recruits potential substitutes, which expands a district's list of substitutes, Gilman said.

School board member Mike Odello asked what methods TOC uses to recruit.

Gilman said methods are varied and can include advertising in local media, placing banners on school buses, using social media such as Twitter and targeting specific groups of potential substitutes.

Gilman said there are individuals who have retired from a profession who can be good, qualified substitute teachers.

Minnesota has a short-call licensure which allows individuals with four-year degrees in any fields to be substitute teachers.

Once TOC recruits individuals to be substitute teachers, it provides regular training for those substitutes and works with districts on their training.

The training is geared toward building the confidence and skill level of any substitute teacher, Gilman said.

TOC offers incentive programs to substitutes, mid-year and end-year bonuses and other incentives such as travel discounts, Gilman said.

"Substitutes have no limits. They can work as much as they want," Gilman said. "They can work in multiple districts."

The school district still sets the pay substitutes receive, Gilman said.

Substitutes are guaranteed at least a half day or four hours of pay on a day in which they work, Gilman said.

Although TOC will employ substitutes, some substitutes can remain as district employees, he said.

TOC does not offer Teaches Retirement Association (TRA))benefits but it does offer a 401K plan to substitutes.

Board member Jennifer Goodnough said the district has a teacher preference list for substitutes. She asked if such a list remain if the district decided to use TOC.

Gilman said that TOC works with the teacher's preference for a substitute, yet in some cases, such as absence created just before school starts, that list may not be able to be used.

The goal is to fill 100 percent of the substitute roles needed each day in a district, Gilman said.

Sixty school districts in Minnesota use TOC, Gilman said.

Superintendent Rick Lahn said the New London-Spicer School District uses TOC and the superintendent is happy with the organization.

School districts in the Twin Cities metro area may already be filling 98 percent of its substitute needs but still use TOC, Gilman said.

Such districts use TOC to help with human resources pieces such as payroll and others because it reduces the workload on district staff, Gilman said.

While TOC primarily serves districts to fill substitute teacher needs, it was recently bought by Kelly Services which will expand TOC's services to schools, Gilman said. Kelly Services is a longstanding temporary employee business. TOC will soon be able to fill temporary vacancies for school nurses, food service staff and other areas, Gilman said.

For a related story, click here. http://www.stevenscountytimes.com/news/education/4416327-sub-morris-area... and http://www.stevenscountytimes.com/news/education/4416331-substitutes-say...

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