January 2000 / Substitute Teaching

Question Mark
Ask the Superintendent: Substitute Teaching
Superintendent's Column
Peninsula Clarion
D. Peterson

January 2000

QUESTION: What are the qualifications to be a substitute teacher?

There are two categories of qualifications – those that we can measure and those that we can’t. The first qualification is that a substitute teacher should be a good person with high moral values that truly likes children. That’s not something that we can measure but it is certainly something to consider before filling out an application. Substituting is not an easy job. But it is one that can be immensely rewarding and one that we desperately need qualified people to do.

I suspect that your question has more to do with “how does one get to be a substitute teacher in KPBSD?” because each District sets the standards for substitutes. To be a substitute teacher in this district, you must complete the application process. Key materials for this step are the employment application, a personal resume, three current confidential Letters of Reference, transcripts reflecting at least 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of college work, a physical examination form, Tuberculosis test, and health questionnaire.

Once this application process is complete, central office reviews the file and conducts a background check. Once the person is deemed eligible for service, the training begins. There is a $25 fee for the substitute orientation and OSHA safety training. A “substitute card” is issued after successful completion of all the steps verifying that the requirements for substitute teaching have been met. An approved substitute list is updated weekly for schools indicating those who have successfully completed the program. Substitute teachers that are on the approved sub list are called by the schools when a teacher is ill, at inservice, jury duty, etc., or has been granted a short leave of absence and the regular teacher is still under contract to our district. Long-term substitutes, those in the classroom beyond nineteen days, or administrator substitutes must have a current Alaska Teacher Certificate on file.

There are two main reasons why people choose to substitute teach. The first is to supplement income. Non-certified (those without a teaching certificate) subs are paid $84 per day and Certified subs (with teaching certificate) are paid $100 per day. The second reason for those with teaching certificates is to “break into” the teaching ranks in the District. When I first moved to the Kenai Peninsula several years ago, substituting was my opportunity to show different building principals my abilities, in the hopes of eventually being hired. That is what happens for many of our folks.

What about other substitute positions besides teachers? Substitutes for support positions such as food service workers, clerical positions, aides, etc. do not require the 60 semester hours of credit but they do require similar items for the application process and before beginning to substitute must participate in training specific to the position. Pay for other substitute positions ranges from $8.50 to $9.00. If there is an interest in substitute bus driving, contact Laidlaw Transit at 260-3557 for their application information.

We do not have a centralized system for calling substitutes. It would be unrealistic to have a person who lives in Seward travel to Nikiski to substitute. Each school or department handles substitutes at their level. Some have employees call their substitute directly and others have a person designated that calls substitutes. If a substitute has a varying schedule and may only be available to substitute on certain days of the week, that can be noted in the system so that the sub doesn’t receive frantic 5 a.m. calls to see if they can come to work.

I remember back to the days of my schooling when we had a substitute – many times from my childlike perspective, it seemed like a “free” day. Obviously our goal is to always have those that have been hired to do the job doing the job they’ve been hired to do. For this reason, we have evolved to a staff development model that requires most of our specialized training to occur outside of the school day (i.e. Friday night and Saturday training courses have increased dramatically). Keeping up with the “shifts” in education requires an extensive time commitment outside of the school day. But some of our training still is limited by schedules of presenters, etc. and people get sick or have personal business that requires their absence from work so we need substitutes.

If you are interested in employment in our school district, I encourage you to check out our web page at http://www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us or to call our human resources department at 262-5846 for an application. Once part of the substitute ranks, an automated recording of current job openings is available after hours by calling the 262-5846 number. The “attendant” will come on after six rings.

As part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District team, substitutes are an important aspect of delivering a quality education to the students throughout the system. I encourage you – if you like to be around students and you’re willing to commit to working with a dynamite team of educators – to consider becoming a substitute in our District. We need you and we believe that you will benefit from this experience.