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Davis OKs raises for substitute teachers

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Davis School District will sweeten the pot for potential substitute teachers.

The district has approved a 5 percent pay increase for substitute teachers - 1.5 percent above that granted to regular teachers - to help make the job more attractive, entice subs to accept jobs regularly and be more willing to commute longer distances, said Mel Miles, director of human resources.The increase will add $2 to $3 to daily rates: $43 for adults without a college degree and $54 for those with a degree; $58 for those with teaching certificates; and $70 for long-term substitutes, who must be certified, Miles said.

The district has budgeted $70,000 for the FY99 increase, requested by the Davis Education Association, Miles said. DEA President Kalyn Denny hopes the pay increase will continue.

"It's not a big difference, but anything we can do is an improvement," Miles said. "It's a tough way to make a living . . . Most districts are not able to afford compensation to attract people to that profession."

Indeed, local school districts have scrambled for subs in recent years.

Between July and December 1997, the Salt Lake City School District counted 17 days without enough substitutes for absent teachers. During that time, substitutes were needed on nearly 5,000 occasions.

While the Salt Lake School District recently approved a 4 percent substitute pay increase - or $2 to $3 per day - in step with teacher raises, another crisis is predicted this winter, said Dolores Riley, assistant superintendent of human resources.

"It isn't a money issue as much an an economic issue. We're in the middle of a great economic situation and jobs are plentiful for those wiling to work, and they pay more," Riley said.

In the coming school year, Salt Lake District substitutes without college degrees or teaching certificates will get approximately $57 per day; those with degrees will receive approximately $61. Salt Lake's 20 to 25 permanent substitutes will get approximately $72.

Salt Lake district leaders have discussed reviewing the number of teacher workshops and training offered during the school day, which pulls many teachers from class, Riley said. It also will use a temporary service, which Jordan School District used last year too, when substitutes cannot be found.

Kristine Stefano, a Davis District substitute teacher, says the pay raise could help draw applicants.

"As long as they feel like their time is valuable and respected, I think it would help a lot," said Stefano, who has teaching certification.

But Stefano says substitute teaching would be easier if more teachers left assignments, detailed lesson plans and schedules or drafted a back-up plan for emergency leave. Also, students should have clear-cut behavior expectations.

"Whether I will go back to a school or a particular teacher's class (depends on) their management and their preparation," Stefano said. "There are some schools I will not go to anymore because discipline is so out of control."

The Davis District has seen a slight increase in substitute teachers in the past year, particularly those with teaching certificates, Miles said. He partly attributes the rise to an automated substitute system, in which teachers use a phone to record instructions. Substitutes then receive a computer call, or they may call the system for a list of daily vacancies.

"It really has made the process of procuring substitutes more efficient and saved the schools tremendous amounts of time," Miles said. "We used to spend four or five hours a day to beg, borrow or steal live bodies to plug in for teachers the next day."