An anticipated struggle to get enough substitute teachers in Parsons USD 503 for the 2021-22 school year may be resolved following action by the Board of Education for a dramatic 22.7% increase in daily pay.

Superintendent Lori Ray told the board members Monday that the district already pays substitute teachers above most other districts, offering $110. She said it is her understanding some other districts were going to be meeting that same pay, so she suggested to the board an increase in substitute teacher pay to $120.

“The concern is with the labor shortages we need all the help we can get to get good able bodies in the classroom,” board president Jeffrey Quirin said.

Ray said the cost, if based on last year’s numbers of substitutes and days, would be an additional $8,050.

“But it might make us a little more marketable when it’s coming up on their phone,” Ray said, given it is very competitive between school districts right now.

“I think we ought to give them more than that,” board member Roger Duroni said. 

“I do, too,” member Lou Martino said, noting businesses are already being impacted by labor shortages again due to COVID-19 infections rising again and quarantines.

The positivity rate in Labette County now is back up over 20% as the delta variant moves in to infect mostly those who are unvaccinated, and lines are again forming at the hospital and clinics for testing.

“So we are looking at a possible shortage,” Martino said.

Ray stated every $10 raise in the substitute teachers’ wages would cost the district approximately $8,050 based on the numbers last year.

Substitute teachers work 7 1/2 hour days.

Duroni said he would go as high as $150 a day, but he thought it would be too expensive for the district. Martino said he was thinking $140. Duroni said $140 was OK with him, but he figures the other districts will jump their substitute teacher pay, too.

“That’s the problem, you get in a bidding war. I guess if you want to attract people …,” Quirin said.

At $140, it would cost the district about $32,000.

Ray said she felt at $120 a day, the district would still be the highest paying district and attract plenty of people.

“I would say $135. That’s $18 a hour,” Quirin said. “That would be my number.”

“Sounds good to me Duroni,” said.

Olivia Lyons agreed, saying when people can go to Casey’s and earn $15, or elsewhere, a little more is needed to make it appealing.

With that, the board voted to approve the $25 increase in daily pay for substitutes.

In other business, the board:

— Heard high school and middle school principals and secretaries returned to work July 19, and elementary school principals will return July 26.

— Approved purchasing new Chromebooks through an eMints grant for sixth grade students.

— Approved a consent agenda for election of board clerk, deputy clerk and treasurer; appointed Kansas Association of School Boards legal staff as attorney; board meeting dates and locations for the coming year; and other general yearly business of the board.

— Hired Lillian Kendrick and Stephanie Smith for child nutrition staff, Nicole Knutson for high school part-time child nutrition staff and Dana Myers as a bus monitor.

— Approved all supplemental assignments.

— Waived textbook fees for the 2021-22 school year.

— Approved handbooks for students, bus drivers and student/parent transportation.

— Heard Aug. 12 is new teacher orientation day.

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