Incentive increases to attract more substitutes amid teacher shortage

The substitute teacher shortage in Orange County is so severe, the district is now increasing incentives to hire more as parents are left worried. 

Phone calls about COVID cases and quarantines have become the new normal for parents. 

"It seems like we get a call probably every three days that there’s been another person at the school who has it," said Shanna Elsberry, whose daughter is in high school in Winter Garden.

That's where Kelly Services comes in. Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) contracts with them to hire substitutes. Officials say the district needs another 1,000 subs.

"Because of the pandemic and teachers being affected by COVID-19, the usage is up tremendously and what we’re seeing is that substitute teachers, themselves, are also struggling with going into the classroom and feeling comfortable," said Kelly Education Vice President Cheryl Courier.

"That’s not a good thing, apparently, because I know there’s a lot of kids back at school now that wasn’t in school last year," Elsberry said.

Kelly Services is hiring 60 to 70 new substitute teachers a week for OCPS but they want that number closer to 100. 

They’re using social media to attract younger subs who may be more willing to work during the pandemic.

Plus, "We’ve had to up the amount of money we pay for referrals from our substitute teachers and the school district employees," Courier said. 

They’re now doubling the incentive from $50 to $100. 

Parents hope for more substitutes because they fear what impact this shortage could have. 

"Not doing much learning, obviously, so that puts them behind," Elsberry said. 

According to Kelly Services, substitutes at OCPS can make roughly $100 to $200 a day.

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