Montgomery County Public Schools and its teachers union have agreed to a modest increase in pay for substitute teachers, the latest attempt to bolster the pool of candidates as the district struggles with severe staffing shortages caused by COVID-19.
On Thursday, MCPS Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight and teachers union representatives signed an agreement that increases the pay for short-term certified substitute teachers by $1.46 per hour, to $21.43. The hourly pay for long-term certified substitutes increased by $2.26, to $30.71, according to the agreement.
For noncertified substitutes in short-term assignments, the hourly pay was increased by less than $1, to $19.71. In long-term assignments, these substitutes’ hourly pay increased by $1.62, to $28.43.
The pay increases will remain in effect through the end of the current school year, the agreement says.
The new agreement comes as MCPS struggles to deal with staffing shortages across the district, as the number of COVID-19 infections has risen in recent weeks. Sometimes, the shortage at a school is so severe that it affects its ability to operate and is a contributing factor to the school temporarily shifting to virtual classes.
During a school board meeting last week, MCPS leaders said more than 1,000 people have applied to be substitutes in the district since the start of the school year, and 550 people have been hired.
On Tuesday, 38% of the 484 substitute teaching requests across the district went unfilled, as did 52% of the 824 requests on Wednesday, according to data provided to Bethesda Beat by MCPS.
As of Wednesday morning, about 23,000 cases of COVID-19 had been reported among staff members and students since the start of the school year on Aug. 31.
There were about 9,000 “active cases,” as of Wednesday, and 11,000 people were quarantined across the district.
The new agreement between MCPS and the Montgomery County Education Association also details certain circumstances in which substitutes may be eligible for additional pay, like if they give up scheduled planning periods (an additional $40), or on “substitute operational impact days.”
The district can identify up to five days in which teacher and substitute shortages are higher than normal, and short-term substitutes will receive an additional $60 for working a full day.
The district must announce the “substitute operational impact days” at least 48 hours in advance, according to the district.
The agreement also outlines a new pilot program expected to launch soon, that would create a pool of substitutes that would work every “planned school day” through the end of the academic year. They would be assigned to whatever school had the most need.
Other area school districts have also opted to increase pay for substitute teachers in an effort to recruit new or convince existing subs to take jobs.
In Howard County, the school board approved a 25% increase in pay for subs. A job posting on the school district’s website shows the daily pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree or higher is $110. In MCPS, the daily rate for the same employee would be at least $136, under the new agreement.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Tuesday a $15 increase in daily pay for the district’s substitute teachers, to $136 per day.