On top of a nationwide shortage and demand for more teachers, there are other positions the Carson City School District is determined to expand and enhance in local schools including substitutes and bus drivers.
Within the first few days of the new school year, school board members tackled the importance of those positions, their purpose, and how they directly impact students and parents of the community during Tuesday night’s meeting at the Carson City Community Center.
School districts in the northern Nevada area share substitutes and that can be a problem, especially considering flu season with fall and winter approaching.
Although the application for substitute teaching is live through the district’s website, the district is also accepting applications for emergency sub positions — qualifying those with at least high school diplomas.
In order to work as a sub, a valid substitute teaching license from the Nevada Department of Education is required.
If anything, administrators of the school could be assigned to sub for a day, but this could be in conflict to their deadlines and schedules.
For Carson City, the mission is to find a solution where there’s no shortage.
“I wish we could triple what we have,” said Dr. Jose Delfin, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources. “I think it’s tough to be a sub. It’s not for the faint of heart. We can throw money at it, but it won’t improve the quality.”
The daily rate for subs in Carson City to work a seven hour work day ranges from $90 to $100 per day. Compared to other districts, Carson City is one of the highest to pay subs but Storey County tops the list with about $105 per day. All new hires receive training.
According to Delfin, the majority of subs are benefitting the classroom based off of reviews received from teachers. However, test results in classrooms also help determine whether subs are doing their jobs adequately.
To keep track of records, Delfin created a form for complaints. If a sub is harming students, they’re terminated from the position. But as for classroom management, Delfin said the district will work with the sub.
“It’s one thing to hear a complaint and one thing to read it in writing,” he said. “We don’t want to completely remove the sub but we will put their position on hold.”
Although there’s a shortage of subs, an annual enrollment report from the district shows there were also fewer students enrolled at the end of the 2017 school year, in June.
Superintendent Richard Stokes said there’s mostly a decrease of elementary school students, compared to middle and high school.
Stokes said the elementary decrease of June 2016-17 is 109 students, while middle and high schools increased in enrollment. He said it’s not a bad comparison but the decrease also is due to children who moved away within the past year, including new students from out of town.
However, bus drivers are still needed, especially with the new bell schedule at Fremont Elementary School, where students can no longer be dropped off before 8:05 a.m.
Thanks to the school district’s before-school programs, this alleviates some parents’ stress, as buses pick up students from before-school locations.
Cheri Fletcher, supervisor of the school district’s Transportation Department, said 56 students use buses on average. There are 31 routes in town, she said, and 10 of those routes are designated for special needs.
With that, Fletcher requested for five more buses, including one for special needs. As the Pre-K bus program begins Monday, Fletcher said her fleet will be expecting an overflow of students. “We have a driver set for 6:30 in the morning for Fremont and Seeliger elementary schools,” she said. “We also go out to Kings Canyon and near the racetrack. With what we have, we add at least 25 minutes to a route.”
Fletcher said the 45 buses in the fleet are old in age, as they date back to two decades. According to the board, it costs $135,000 each year for a bus.
“This is the worst shortage in all routes and kids,” Fletcher said. “But we make it work.”
Board members approved to add five buses to the fleet, along with a request for supervision on new hire subs or subs with a complaint history.