Michele Starkey

Michele Starkey

Finding substitute teachers has been an ongoing problem for years. And no school is immune.

But on Monday, Logansport Community School Corporation’s board took a step toward resolving the growing trend.

The board approved an agreement between the corporation and Cherry Hill, New Jersey-based Education Management & Staffing Solution LLC (ESS). Starting in August 2021, all substitute teachers, cafeteria workers, and instructional assistants will be part of ESS’s employment group.

Heidi Smith, ESS’s director of business development for Indiana, told the board that she will begin a grassroots recruiting campaign in May. She will work from the current pool of substitutes and also try to attract more individuals to the team.

A representative will attend sporting events, church functions, and local businesses to talk with people and post flyers. Once recruitment comes to a close, the team will transition to training.

Over the summer, individuals will learn about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), bloodborne pathogens, and how to look for signs of abuse among students. Folks also will receive tips and training on how to manage classrooms.

Generally, said Smith, the individual leading the training sessions is a retired teacher from the local community – or, an employee of ESS if that’s preferable.

“We invest highly in our substitutes,” she said, informing the board that “we will put someone on staff in this district.”

That “someone” will be known as the on-site director, who will work approximately five hours per day, five days a week. The person will visit each school building, checking in on the substitutes and maintaining an open channel of communication. The person also will follow-through with feedback from administrators and teachers to ensure substitutes are fulfilling their responsibilities in a proper manner.

The on-site director will help secretaries fill positions and continue to recruit new subs.

Smith said the substitutes would be ready to go by the 2021-2022 school year. Pay would be as follows: $67 per day for subs without a degree, $82 per day for subs with a bachelor’s degree or higher, $92 per day for subs with a teaching license, and $129.49 per day for long-term subs with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Substitute cafeteria workers would earn $9.27 per hour and substitute instructional assistants would receive $8.84 per hour.

ESS “has more than 105 years of experience in the Midwest,” said Smith, adding that based upon national statistics, students spend around 143 days with a substitute over the course of their kindergarten through 12th-grade educational careers.

That’s a lot of student influence, Smith said. And that’s why her program is geared toward offering “the best recruiting, training, and employee engagement. It’s what we do.”

LCSC Superintendent Michele Starkey said that ESS has her full support. “I’ve been impressed with them. I feel confident …”

Board member Milt Hess agreed. “I’m excited to know what might be in store for the new substitute service. The plan sounds great and it could be a big boost for (the) corporation. Until you’re in that place, you don’t understand” how stressful and frustrating it might be to track down a substitute when needed.

Acknowledging the concern, Smith said that many schools fail when hiring a sub for just one day. Typically, those people never come back. But by working through ESS, people tend to feel more secure in having a semi-steady to steady job.

It’s a solution to the problem, according to Starkey. And if proven fruitful, it’s possible substitute bus drivers might be the next to join the program.

In other business:

Currently, 28 students have enrolled for June’s Camp Invention. There are 15 scholarships available to help students who would otherwise not be able to participate. If all of these are given away, the camp would reach more than 40 kindergarten through 5th graders (incoming first- through sixth-grade students).

The camp is geared toward programs involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Cost is $225 and will be held at Landis Elementary School from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 7th through 11th.

Reach Kristi Hileman at kristi.hileman@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5150{/span}

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