The Substitute Teacher Crisis in New Hanover County Schools

by Position Statements

I want to start off by saying THANK YOU to New Hanover County Schools for taking suggestions, and at the Oct 19th, 2021 meeting, voting on measures that address realistic solutions on the substitute shortage problem happening across the New Hanover County school system.

What substitute teacher shortage?

Teachers and staff are valuable resources for our kids. When the inevitable happens and teachers and staff must be out of the classroom or school building, we MUST have a pool of qualified and dedicated replacements focused on ensuring the academic progress of our children is not interrupted and they are provided a safe environment for learning and growth. Like many other school districts across North Carolina and the country, we are faced with a major shortage of substitutes. This situation needs to be addressed and is not acceptable. Allowing this to continue places our children at RISK and we must actively recruit and identify substitutes that will allow our public schools to function safely and focused on the needs of our children.

How can New Hanover County Schools provide better incentives to attract more substitutes?

Providing a stipend for substitutes who work more than 15 days a month has already been presented as one possible solution, and it is a good first step.

Additionally, I would supplement this with an increased pay incentive for schools that typically have the most vacancies to be filled, which is usually present in our schools with increased behavioral issues among students. Schools who experience more frequent and sustained levels of vacancies often call on their full-time teachers during their planning periods as well as other support staff to cover these shortages for their colleagues. Oftentimes, students from affected classes are split up and dispersed into another teacher’s classroom, thus creating more overcrowding of classrooms, which isn’t a good situation for anyone. These situations should reward those teachers with additional compensation who lose their planning periods to cover these shortages.

Another Solution?

Providing a permanent long term substitute for specific schools to be a “floater/hall monitor/classroom assistant” could also provide another creative solution that could benefit our staff. Our schools who typically have fewer and less consistent levels of teacher and staff vacancies could share a “long term substitute” who would be assigned to support more than one campus as needed, while also ensuring these campuses are not separated geographically by distances that would make the situation unappealing for these substitutes. Creating and maintaining a pool of substitute personnel to fill vacancies will ensure our teachers are able to safely, efficiently, and effectively facilitate their classrooms and our children’s learning environment while also ensuring that students remain in the classroom and do not suffer from harmful disruptions or distractions.

If you are interested in becoming a substitute in New Hanover County Schools here is the link:

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