Jefferson City Public Schools is banking that a pay raise for its substitute teachers will help attract more and better candidates, after recent state legislation decreased the number of JCPS retirees who could fill in.
Legislation former Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law in July 2017 limited the number of hours retired teachers could work as a sub through a third-party or as an independent contractor.
JCPS Chief Financial and Operating Officer Jason Hoffman told the district's Board of Education last Monday that the school district's substitute fill rate "fell off quite a bit in the last year."
Hoffman didn't give a specific number Monday to the board — adding Friday that the rate fell from 94 percent in 2016-17 to 92.5 percent last year — but said the decrease got the district to start looking at what it pays its subs compared to other districts in the area.
"We haven't increased substitute pay for quite a while," he said. "As we looked, we're still fairly competitive. We're not really low, but we're not really high either."
The district contracts with the third-party Kelly Educational Services to hire substitutes, at a rate before last week that was $75 a day for regular substitutes. The board unanimously approved last Monday an increase to $85 a day.
JCPS had not increased substitute pay since the 2007-08 fiscal year, Hoffman wrote in the information packet for the board.
The Blair Oaks R-2 district's Board of Education in July raised pay for substitute teachers to $75 a day.
The South Callaway R-2 School District's Board of Education this month raised the pay for substitutes from $70 per day to $80 for a non-certified person with a substitute certificate or $85 for a certified teacher.
The school districts in Columbia and Fulton each pay $80 a day, Hoffman wrote in the information packet.
"We feel like in order to help improve our substitute fill rate — to get better subs, to get people interested in subbing more — we really need to have the best sub (compensation) rate in the area," he told the board.
"When we did the research, we found that when we have a long-term sub, this is way more than competitive, it's way more than other schools do, but when you have an extended service, if we can have a really good person in there for a long time, we think that's a good value," he said.
He didn't propose and the board didn't increase pay for long-term substitutes in the district — long-term being more than 20 consecutive days. Long-term substitutes for JCPS are paid $189.84 a day, while long-term substitutes who are also JCPS retirees are paid $200 a day.
The board also approved other raises for other kinds of substitutes: short-term substitutes who are retired from the district got a $10 raise to $100 a day; clerical and paraprofessional subs got a $1 hourly raise to $11 an hour; and clerical and paraprofessional subs who are JCPS retirees got a $1 hourly raise to $13 an hour.
The pay raises for substitutes are projected to increase the district's budget by $31,000, which will be amended to the budget in October, Hoffman said.
Kelly Services also "agreed to reduce their markup by 1 percent on all these," Hoffman said. Last year, the district came in under budget on substitutes —$83,369 under a substitute budget of more than $1.1 million, according to the board information packet.
"Do you think this is enough incentive to get more people to do this, or is it another thing that has nothing to do with salary?" board Vice President Rich Aubuchon asked of the pay raises before they were voted to be approved.
"I think what hurt us in our fill rate last year is the legislation that passed that restricted Kelly Services' employees to the same 550-hour rule that regular retirees get. Prior to this year, if you were a retiree and you worked for us, you were restricted to the 550 hours; but if you worked for Kelly Services, you could sub as many days as you wanted. And so they changed that law and said if you work for a third party and it's a position that requires a certificate, you're restricted to the same rules that a covered employer would have. We lost a lot of our retirees that could sub more," Hoffman answered.