Substitute teachers of the Leon County School District can expect to be paid $14 per hour. This marks the second time in three years that LCSD has increased substitute teacher wages.
Prior to the initial raise, substitute wages remained dormant at $10 per hour for over a decade.
Teachers played a crucial role in starting the discussion to increase the overall budget in order to raise substitutes pay within the county. However, the school board did not have to approve the new wage.
“This grew out of a conversation with our teachers,” said School District Communication Coordinator Chris Petley. “They reported to us that there were not enough substitutes for them to take their leave for sick days because their classes would not be covered.”
When asked about the overall budget, Petley ensured that the proper funds have been set aside to not only maintain current public-school departments, but to raise substitutes’ pay.
“We don’t anticipate having to cut funding in other departments,” said Petley. “We should have this in the budget for this year and next.”
An estimate of $250,000 is what is needed to fulfill the pay raise.
Compared to counties at the opposite end of the state like Miami-Dade, Leon County substitutes will now earn as much as a substitute teacher with a bachelor’s degree; rounding out to $84 a day.
Myqueal Lewis, a social work scholar with a focus in adolescence development emphasized the number of substitutes in the classroom that don’t have a degree.
“When you look at the statistics, usually these are individuals who don’t have a degree in education or have a whole heart desire to teach or educate the youth,” said Lewis. “So, you ask yourself: Do they really deserve the increased pay?”
Lewis also made note that these are everyday people trying to make a living just like every other working class American.
As the salary increases, so do the expectations. LCSD is in search of high-quality substitutes that can fulfill the duties needed in a teacher’s absence and still provide a decent quality of learning for students.
High school teacher John Campbell prays for only the best substitutes that cover his classroom with a love of students and education, not just money. Even more so, Campbell pursues young and upcoming educators in college. He feels as if his students are left in good hands and is giving practice to the next generation of educators.
“If you can find college students who are majoring in education: one, its money for them and two, it’s experience,” said Campbell. “When you can find those college students who are doing it because of those reasons, you basically found yourself a powerhouse substitute.”
The number of substitute teachers available in Leon County has dropped tremendously. From a call pool that was once filled with over 1,000 substitutes, now sits at 555. With a new wage available, school board members and teachers continue to keep their fingers crossed for a quick turnaround.