Nationwide substitute teacher shortage reaches Chippewa Valley

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - As children return to the classroom, some local school districts are still trying to find substitute teachers.

Tim Johnson, Executive Director of Human Resources and Public Relations at Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District, said it’s not a new issue.

“The last five years there’s just been less people available. So especially finding staff and then having those available also in the community that that can have the flexibility to sub, certainly is more of a challenge now,” Johnson said.

Wisconsin is steadily losing teacher in their first five years of employment, according to a January 2023 report from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Ernest Tisdale, National Field Service Director with Edustaff, said the substitute shortage is a problem nationwide.

“It goes all the way back 15, 16, 17 years ago when we had a couple of substitute teachers who are waiting to walk into a full time district position. Now, you fast forward to where we are, you start seeing a decline in teachers going through education programs or students going through education programs. You also start seeing a more of a need at our school districts,” Tisdale said.

With a limited number of people wanting to be substitutes, districts are almost having to compete for them.

“It does sometimes come down to the dollar amounts, whether that’s hourly for support staff or the daily rate for teaching staff. You’ll see that other districts will raise and then, we have to stay competitive,” Johnson said.

“Our school districts are saying we only can pay subs so much money, but we’re up against the other industries that are pulling staff away from our sub pool. Other industries that are paying high wages as well,” Tisdale said.

Johnson said having an abundance of substitutes is needed to prevent teacher burnout.

“We don’t have someone to fill that position, now we have to create a coverage plan and someone needs to do it that morning to figure out what’s going on. Then people are missing their opportunities throughout the day to end their job duties to support one another. When that gets restricted on a regular basis, it’s it’s it’s stressful for our staff,” Johnson said.

Along with K-12, special needs classrooms are also struggling to find substitutes and even full-time staff.

The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District and Eau Claire Area School District are looking for daily or long-term substitutes. If you are interested in applying, a list of open positions can be found on the district’s websites, linked above.