More Yuma residents eyeing substitute teaching
Until the recession finding substitute teachers to fill in for contracted faculty could be a challenge. But since the economic downturn there is a glut of substitute teachers in some Yuma-area school districts and in the state.
Since the state's unemployment rate jumped from 6.3 percent in November to 6.9 percent in December educators in the Phoenix area have reported a growing roster of substitutes. But in Yuma the picture is not so clear as to what the burgeoning pool of substitutes can be attributed to.
Since the Christmas break Crane Elementary District has seen many more applicants than usual, Debbie Hedrick, Crane Elementary School District human resources director said.
"It's not only because of the recession, but always during the winter we have more retired educators who spend winter here," Hedrick said. "And because of the recession a lot of retirees are having a difficult time, so they go back to work and subbing is great because they can pick and choose where and when to work."
Until December, on any given day, Crane was averaging about one or two applicants a week but this year they averaged about six per week, a "significant increase," Hedrick said.
There are 148 substitutes in the Crane substitute bank. On average there are 30 substitutes teaching on any one day out of 334 teachers. Nationwide, every day 10 percent of the teaching workforce consists of substitutes in the K-12 system, Hedrick said.
"In Crane we use a lot of substitutes because 94 percent of our teachers are female," Hedrick said. "A lot of them start their career right out of school but once they marry and start a family they get 12 weeks off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, so as a consequence we have a lot of maternity leave."
The pay rate for a Crane substitute may vary between $75 per day for those who work one or several days, $85 per day for those working in the same classroom for a week, and $135 per day for those who work in the same classroom for 30 or more days.
"It's seldom we don't have a substitute in the classroom because we've suspended all travel in the district because of the recession," Hedrick said "So there's fewer absent teachers and we have many more applying this year."
Kriss Rico, District 1, human resources director, says they also have filled more substitute vacancies this year than last year, particularly on Mondays and Fridays when there is more absences. District 1 has a pool of 178 substitutes and employees about 110 per week on average.
But the situation is different at Yuma Union High School District, human resources director Mary Lynn Coleman said. This year that district has 171 substitutes available, 20 more than last year. Coleman said she has not seen any pattern of increased layoffs in the applications her office reviews and cannot attribute the increase to the economy.
YUHSD employee on the average 65 substitutes per day depending on what is occurring that day. Contract teachers may need time off for many reasons including bereavement or those teachers who also coach athletics and must travel with their teams.
Les Baumgarner is a retired elementary school teacher who has substituted for District 1 on all but eight school days this year.
"I probably substituted 60 days last year but I was only registered at Desert Mesa Elementary," Baumgarner said.
He went on that his retirement compensation is more than adequate and he took all the substitute offers he could get this year mostly motivated by his longing for the classroom atmosphere, a chance to cultivate faculty friendships, and because he did not have a lot of home activities to stay busy.
"I enjoy subbing very much," Baumgarner said. "It's not something I'd thought I'd enjoy when I was teaching but I'm pleasantly surprised."
William Roller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858.