Teachers getting help in finding subs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

[10/29/03]Teachers will no longer be responsible for finding their own substitutes, the school board decided Tuesday.

The Vicksburg Warren School District has hired a substitute coordinator who will be paid $60 per school day to find replacements for teachers who are absent.

Under longstanding procedures, each of the district’s 550 teachers is given a list of eligible subs and their phone numbers and must call until they find someone to take their place, often at the last minute.

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“Sometimes it’s hard, especially when you have children who are sick,” said Mark Holdiness, a health and physical education teacher and a basketball coach at Vicksburg Junior High School. “You’re worried about your class, but you’re also worried about your children, too. I think it’s good that the school district will have someone in place for that.”

Under new procedures, teachers who have planned or emergency absences will contact Marta Christian, who will work as an independent contractor to contact and assign subs. About 40 teachers are out each day, said Superintendent James Price.

While seventh-grade English teacher Rhonda Clark agrees having someone contact substitutes would be helpful, some teachers want to have a say in who their subs will be.

Debbie Freeman, a second-grade teacher, said she is more comfortable using specific substitutes who are familiar with her school’s routine and her class.

“Elementary school children spend the entire day with their teacher,” said Susan Mims, a first-grade teacher at Bowmar Magnet Elementary School. “And I want my students to have a familiar face with them.”

Price said teachers can specify their preference when they call the coordinator.

Price said the new system will add efficiency, “instead of having sick teachers in a mad rush calling the same person 20 or 30 times in the morning.”

He said the service would also be a more efficient way of managing personnel.

“We’ll know via e-mail by 8 a.m. how many teachers are out and where,” he said. “This gives us a management tool to work with that can pinpoint potential problems.”

Price, superintendent since July, has said he would like to see teachers miss fewer days.

While classroom teachers must be licensed and certified and hold a bachelor’s degree as a minimum, subs are screened but not required to be licensed or certified.

In other votes, the board:

Approved the expulsion of three students.

Approved six student transfers and denied one transfer.

Approved readvertisement of leases on 16th Section land for hunting and fishing.

Approved minutes from the Sept. 25 meeting.

Accepted cash donations.

Approved out-of-state travel requests.

Approved making repairs for a bus turn-around.

The next meeting of the board of trustees will be at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 20, at the offices on Mission 66.