EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — We’ve heard about worker shortages in all types of businesses and segments of our economy across our nation and here in our region. You can add education to that growing list.
Substitute teachers are in short supply and there are concerns that the shortage will impact the quality of education in our classrooms.
We are hearing a lot of concern we spoke with superintendents of large and small school districts across our region. Superintendents say they are entering what they describe as ‘crisis mode’ to keep their classes open.
“So we are in dire need of substitute teachers in the Hanover Area School District,” said Nathan Barrett, Superintendent of the Hanover Area School District.
Barrett says when teachers are off, filling their spot for the day has become a challenge.
“We’ve been putting teachers in an auditorium for coverage because we don’t have enough people to cover their empty classrooms. And this could mean a diminishing value of education these students are receiving,” explained Barrett.
Barrett says the quality of education is not being impacted as of yet. But it is a real concern moving forward.
He says an overall teacher shortage that began years ago and is being accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic is among the reasons for the shortage.
“We have a spot for someone every single day of the week so if someone did apply they would work every day of the week,” stated Barrett.
Thomas Gilmore is a substitute teacher at the Hanover Area High School. He says he saw it coming last year.
“Well, when I was here student teaching I obviously noticed there was a need for substitutes. They needed teachers every day. So I knew it was something I can walk into a place where I can help,” stated Gilmore.
Officials in the Crestwood School District say they are facing the same challenge.
Finding and hiring substitute teachers, they even have an advertisement looking for substitutes on their electronic sign in front of the high school, Superintendent Robert Mehalick says.
“Each and every day we are short substitutes and we are doing everything we can, teachers giving up planning periods, working periods, giving up anything and everything to ensure we have a quality instruction taking place,” explained Mehalick.
Every school district is competing for the same small pool of substitute teachers. So they are oftentimes keeping a close eye on what other districts are offering. This is to stay competitive so what’s the solution?
No one really has a definite plan but there is talk in Harrisburg to reduce the requirements for substitute teachers to possibly attract more people to apply for the jobs.