Indianapolis News and HeadlinesEducation


'It’s the hardest it’s ever been': Central Indiana districts struggle with substitute teacher shortages

school students
Posted at 5:21 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 11:20:29-05

FRANKLIN — A substitute teacher is at the head of an algebra class at Franklin Community High School Wednesday.

The district is not immune to substitute teacher staffing shortages. Currently, about half of the needed substitute teacher openings are filled.

“Right now, it’s the hardest it’s ever been,” Franklin Community Schools Superintendent David Clendening said.

“Then that remaining 50%, we have to juggle internally or have people from central office go into the classroom,” Clendening said.

To attract substitute teachers — whether college students, parents or retired educators — Dr. Clendening said they started several initiatives including raising pay, social media campaigns and holding weekly orientation and interview meetings.

“Education is still a great job. We need great people to interact with our kids so that we have a bright future,” Clendening said.

Noblesville is facing similar issues. District spokesperson Marnie Cooke tells WRTV in an email “about half” of needed sub openings are being filled. Cooke added the district is short an average of 33 classroom subs daily.

“To cover these remaining vacancies, teachers have to give up their classroom preparation time to sub other classes, instructional assistants sub, media specialists sub, principals sub and staff from our administration office sub. Working to cover sub needs and keep up with all the other responsibilities of safely running a school causes a high level of stress every single day for our staff," the email read.

In October, a national survey found 77% of school leaders reported struggling to hire substitute teachers, and nearly two-thirds feel staffing shortages is a “moderate” or “severe” problem.

“Our substitute shortage is more pronounced than it’s ever been,” Mount Vernon Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Jack Parker said.

The educator notes the shortage was an issue for years, and the pandemic only worsened it.

“I was a school administrator for 25 years and when you have one unfilled sub position, when you have a handful of unfilled sub positions — it impacts the entire school,” Parker said.

Last fall, the district made swift changes to bring in new substitutes including raising pay and hiring full-time subs for each building — three at the high school and two at each of the other buildings.

“We’re starting to see pre-pandemic sub fill rates at this point. It’s been a really big deal; it’s been a game changer,” Parker said.

Still, Mount Vernon said it will always take more subs. So will Franklin Community Schools and just about every district in-between.

WRTV reporter Nikki DeMentri asked both superintendents “Do you think this sub shortage is going to stop any time soon?”

“I do not I think it’s going to be on the beck and call of all we’re trying to do," Dr. Clendening said.

“This is something we will continue to have to work with, I imagine, for many years to come because our kids need to be in school," Dr. Parker said.

To apply to become a substitute teacher at these locations, click the links below:
Noblesville Schools
Franklin Community Schools
Mount Vernon Community School Corporation

You can also reach out to your local school district by visiting their website.