Substitutes struggle with new system

Andy Bumbarger and Truman Heberlig

On a daily basis there are many spots to fill for teachers who are sick, have sick family members, or take personal days, and there is a new program taking charge of finding subs this year called Source for Teachers. This program is used to cover multiple school districts in the area.   

Schools such as Cumberland Valley have had major issues with the program, like 103 teachers out and only 64 substitutes to cover the positions.  This still leaves 39 classrooms without teachers and potentially leaves empty classrooms in schools, or regular teachers covering one another’s classrooms.

Some substitute teachers who frequently work at Big Spring have experienced difficulties with the program.  Shelly Raker, substitute teacher, said that the Source for Teachers program is “impersonal” and makes it very hard to contact Source for Teachers if there are any questions.  If a sub has questions,  they can’t just call a number and talk to a direct person, as wait times have been  over an hour just to talk to someone.  Jeffrey Rosenberry, also a substitute, said,  “I don’t really have a problem with Source for Teachers except for the fact that they are very hard to contact.”   Another sub, Charles Hickes, said that the Source for Teachers program is “overwhelmed”. He said that there are too many openings and not enough teachers to fill the part.  Hickes said that he has had some problems in the past with some paperwork being lost but he explained that with new programs there will be problems. Hickes says that he expects it to get better as the years go on.

In Pennsylvania, it is very hard to find subs that are certified for the position that is open.  This is due to a number of things: for one it is because of a lack of subs due to the vast variety of schools that one program is covering, and the cost of living and the pay just don’t add up.

Raker said it is hard for new teachers coming right out of school to get jobs in Pennsylvania.  This is because there are already so many teachers in Pennsylvania, and for new teachers graduating and trying to make a life for themselves the finances just aren’t there.   

Substitute teachers at Big Spring only make 90 dollars a day for the first 45 days until it goes 95 dollars.  After taxes this is the equivalent of about 75 dollars. This makes it difficult for a new teacher fresh out of college to survive off this pay, and having a program which is difficult to navigate could eliminate the subs who are willing to work.

The Big Spring District Office was unavailable for comment on this article.