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Substitute orientation to be offered at District 518

By Cory Van Briesen, District 518

WORTHINGTON — A shortage of substitute teachers and paraprofessionals is placing many Minnesota school districts in a bind. Growing shortages of substitutes are evident across the state and are forcing schools to take actions necessary to combat the situation. Substitute pools have traditionally been made up of new teachers trying to gain experience in the field, in addition to retirees. However, new teachers are in high demand and are securing full-time jobs because fewer people are entering the teaching profession.

District 518 is contending with finding ways to provide classroom coverage for teachers who need to be gone from work due to illness, necessary training or emergency situations. Currently, teachers are being asked to give up their preparation time to cover for colleagues who have to be absent, principals are going into classrooms to provide coverage, or students are split up and moved into other classrooms that are already full when their teacher is out.

Because substitutes make such an important contribution to the school district and its students, District 518 is offering a free orientation for those interested in becoming substitute teachers and paraprofessionals in the district. The goal of the orientation is to provide relevant information about the application process, duties, expectations, scheduling and wages. This orientation will also provide information about what is involved in a typical day of substituting. The next substitute orientation is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Prairie Elementary. Anyone who is interested in subbing in the district is encouraged to explore this opportunity.

A frequently asked question regarding substitute teaching is, “Who can be a substitute teacher or paraprofessional?” All individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in any field may apply for a Minnesota substitute teaching license. Any person interested in being a substitute paraprofessional is required to have a high school diploma or GED. Special permission may also be granted to a school district to hire an individual who is not a licensed teacher, but has a specific area of expertise related to the teaching assignment. District 518’s school board has also approved an increase in substitute pay. Substitute teachers who work a full day at Prairie Elementary will now earn $135 per day, and those working at any of the other schools will earn $125 per day. Paraprofessional subs earn the hourly wage of $14.01. Please contact the District Office with any questions (372-2172). We look forward to seeing any interested parties at the informational orientation session on Jan. 10.

Cory Van Briesen is assistant principal at Prairie Elementary.