Wave of substitute requests had Shawnee Mission scrambling to fill teaching roles Monday

Just over 15 percent of the Shawnee Mission School District’s staff requested substitutes on Monday.

A wave of substitute requests left the Shawnee Mission School District with dozens of teaching roles unfilled as classes convened Monday.

Other area districts saw a sharp uptick in substitute requests for the day following the Chiefs Super Bowl victory as well, but the phenomenon was especially pronounced in Shawnee Mission, where teachers have been speaking out against the three-year unilateral contract approved by the board of education last week. Central to the teachers’ objections to the passage of the unilateral contract were concerns about addressing workload issues.

The central office reports that it received 323 substitute requests out of its 2,100 employees — an absence rate of 15%. At neighboring Olathe Public Schools, 215 of the district’s 2,770 certified staff called out sick or requested personal leave. That’s a rate of about 8%. In Blue Valley, 148 of 1,878 teachers made substitute requests. That’s a rate of about 8%.

Kelly Education Staffing Services, which took over management of the district’s substitute operations in 2017, was not able to fill 76 of the substitute requests, leading building and central office administrators to pick up teaching duties in many cases.

Shawnee Mission Chief Financial Officer Russell Knapp told the board of education at its last regular meeting that current expenses related to filling substitute requests were $75,000 over budget for the current fiscal year.