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Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District Staff Tackle Teacher Shortage Moving Education #ForwardTogether

Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District Staff Tackle Teacher Shortage Moving Education #ForwardTogether

FAIRFIELD, CA - It is not irregular to see a school principal or assistant principal in a classroom throughout the school day. Observing new teachers and generally checking in with students and staff is a regular part of their workday. This school year, however, due to a tremendous need for substitute teachers, Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District (FSUSD) administrators are finding themselves in classrooms to cover for absent employees and maintain regular class schedules. 

As public school districts nationwide are struggling to fill teaching positions, school principals, assistant principals, and district office administrators are pitching in to ensure learning continues for students. Many districts have resorted to combining a number of classes in a gymnasium or library to mitigate the unfilled substitute vacancies. Fairfield-Suisun is working diligently to avoid doing this at all costs. Secondary schools are often able to cover an unfilled absence by having other teachers do an “in lieu” in which five teachers are paid to teach the class during what would normally be their preparation period. This practice is exhausting to teachers. At the elementary level, students in a class without a substitute may be split up and placed into other teachers’ classrooms. None of these situations is ideal. “We are grateful to those who step in to cover classes when substitutes are unavailable,” Superintendent Kris Corey stated. “We are doing everything possible to keep the learning happening in the classroom despite the substitute shortage. I am grateful for the team effort.”

Director of Elementary Education, Ryan Gonzales teaches in a classroom

Director of Elementary Education, Ryan Gonzales, engages fifth graders while filling in as a substitute.

This shortage of teachers, compounded by the effects of a global pandemic, has exacerbated the substitute situation. On average, Fairfield-Suisun has 92 teachers absent on any given day. Mondays and Fridays tend to have higher rates of absenteeism. The Governing Board, at its September 9, 2021 meeting, decided to substantially increase salaries offered to FSUSD substitute teachers. The District also increased recruitment efforts, particularly with those teachers who recently retired. These efforts have proven to be timely. “Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District is experiencing a marked increase in the last two weeks in the number of applicants for our substitute teaching positions,” stated Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Ken Whittemore. Current FSUSD substitute teachers can earn between $250 - $310 each day. This is more than a 47%  increase from the previous substitute salary schedule. The District also reimburses substitute teachers for their fees in attaining their emergency substitute credential.

Not only are substitutes in demand, classroom teachers are at a premium. Fairfield-Suisun continues to advertise and recruit for full-time teachers. “With additional teachers, we are able to lower class sizes in many instances and better serve our students. The District is appreciative of the response of our community and encourages people to apply for this rewarding work,” Whittemore remarked. Recent adjustments made to credentialing requirements at the state level has allowed for more people to enter the profession prior to obtaining their full credential.

Director of Secondary Education, Kristen Witt substitutes at Fairfield High School

Director of Secondary Education, Kristen Witt, substitute teaching at Fairfield High School.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many to re-evaluate their jobs and wonder what they could do next. Education may be the new career for those seeking a change with substitute teaching as a possible entry point. Think about the people you encounter every day - the parents, grandparents, volunteers in your school, your neighbors, former colleagues, and friends. Do they like variety? Do they love kids? Do they want to enjoy a rewarding career? Do they have experiences and knowledge to share? Are they looking to give back to their community? If so, teaching is a wonderful opportunity to explore.

Please share the link below with someone who might be a good substitute teacher. Substitutes require a Bachelor’s degree, but the District is also recruiting paraeducators for anyone 18 years or older. Those wishing to become a substitute in Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District should contact the Human Resources Department via the information below or apply online at www.fsusd.org/SubstituteTeach.

Felicia Clayton, Personnel Specialist I

Phone: (707) 435-3991

Email: FeliciaC@fsusd.org

 

Ken Whittemore, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources

Phone: (707) 399-5016

Email: KenWh@fsusd.org