USD 232 in De Soto hikes substitute teacher pay to highest rate in Johnson County to help deal with shortage

With a new pay increase for substitute teachers approved Monday by the school board, USD 232 in De Soto is now the highest-paying public school district for subs in Johnson County. File photo.

Facing a shortage of qualified substitute teachers, USD 232 in De Soto is increasing its sub pay rate to be more competitive with neighboring school districts.

After some discussion, the USD 232 Board of Education last week voted 6-0 to increase the school district’s substitute teacher pay from $125 to $140 for the short term (or daily) rates and from $140 to $175 for long term rates. Board member Rick Amos was absent.

With the increase in rates, USD 232 is now the highest-paying public school district for substitutes in Johnson County and remains one of the higher paying\ districts in the Kansas City metro.

USD 232 now matches the rates of Bonner Springs/Edwardsville Unified School District and closely follows Kansas City Kansas and Turner school districts.

Brian Schwanz and Carrie Handy with the school district’s human resources department said USD 232’s previous rates put the school district in the bottom third, offering some of the lowest rates compared with surrounding school districts.

Why the shortage?

Handy said USD 232 has 177 active substitute teachers, but 41 of them have not taken a single assignment so far this school year.

For the 136 substitutes who are working, only 74 have worked more than five days since the start of the school year, Handy added.

According to the district, here are the top reasons active substitutes gave when asked by the district about why they haven’t taken an assignment:

  • They are working in another school district (due to pay or proximity to their home)
  • They have another part-time job that has hindered them from taking substitute assignments
  • Other personal reasons (including fears related to COVID-19)

Lower sub rates than in the past

Handy and Schwanz said substitute fill rates haven’t been as high as the district wants to see.

In 2019, the fill rate was over 98%, while the current quarter’s fill rate is about 90%, the lowest the district has had in working with Morgan Hunter, a local staffing agency.

Nonetheless, Handy said that remains better than the fill rates in other school districts.

“We know that we’re very fortunate … because many of our surrounding districts, while we are upset and whatnot from our 90%, that is their reality on a good year, and so we know that we’re very fortunate here,” he said.

Handy added that full-time teachers and other staff members have had to cover more classes this year that in previous years may have been filled by a sub.

“Teachers, thank you to all in the audience because they are going above and beyond to cover classrooms, our administrators, everybody is jumping in and working harder than they ever have,” Handy added.

USD 232 spent about $102,000 on substitute teacher pay in September 2019.

With the proposed rates using the same numbers from September 2019, the district would end up spending about $137,000 in that same time period.

Superintendent Frank Harwood said the district could tap into federal pandemic emergency funds to temporarily cover the cost increases. After that, the district could factor the pay increase into the budget going forward.