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District 518 bumps substitute pay rate

WORTHINGTON — Substitute teachers were a hot item of discussion during this week’s Independent School District 518 operations and instructional committee meetings.

The instructional committee will recommend increasing substitute teacher pay by $5 a day at all District 518 sites. Citing a need to offer sub wages competitive with surrounding school districts, the committee will recommend paying Worthington middle and high schools’ substitutes $130 per day and Prairie Elementary subs $140 per day.

District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said the reason the rate is higher at Prairie Elementary is because subs often say it’s more work.

“And that’s where we’re usually short (on sub help),” he added.

Each committee also discussed hiring a third-party company to manage the district’s sub scheduling and payroll. The committees mulled over hiring Teachers on Call and will ultimately further discuss at Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

Preliminary numbers indicate the district coule realize approximately $57,000 in cost savings —  particularly in personnel time and effort needed to coordinate and manage sub assignments — by contracting all sub management through TOC.

Board members discussed several benefits, including voiding sub working hour limits due to Affordable Care Act benefit requirements, expanding the sub pool, and time and resources saved. In exchange of managing substitutes, TOC requires the district pay 28 percent per retained substitute’s pay rate.

The instructional committee also discussed offering free activity passes to senior citizens. Board Chair Lori Dudley brought the suggestion to the instructional committee for discussion after being approached at the Nobles County Fair by district residents. As it stands now, senior citizens can earn free admission with volunteer work or are offered a reduced annual pass rate.  

While Landgaard said he still would encourage volunteer work, the number of senior passes and the revenue those generate is minimal, he said.

“I would just make if free,” he added.

A potential roadblock to implementing that option this year, however, is that some passes have already been sold.

Instructional committee members did not make a recommendation for Tuesday’s board meeting, but expressed that they do not oppose free senior passes if those who have already purchased passes can be reimbursed.  

In other meeting businesses, the committees will:

  • Recommend full board approval to let bids to pave the middle school parking lot south of the tennis courts.

With what operations committee members believe to be a reasonably priced estimate of $310,000 to abolish a gravel-surfaced parking lot, the committee will recommend advertising for bids. Depending on the results of that process, board members said the district could then choose to continue and pave it this fall or hold off for another year.

  • Further discuss at Tuesday’s full board meeting two bids received for 3.1 acres of district-owned property abutting Fox Farm Road on its development site in west Worthington. One bid is for $15,000 per acre for a total of $46,500 by a bidder from Heron, S.D. and one for $6,000 per acre, for a total of $18,600 by a Worthington resident.