For the second time in as many years, the state of Missouri has relaxed its requirements for individuals to become certified as a substitute teacher.
Candidates can now be certified as a substitute teacher with only 36 college credit hours. The measure was approved by lawmakers in the spring and took effect immediately after Governor Mike Parson signed it into law earlier this summer.
The state previously required applicants to have 60 college credit hours. Two years ago, during the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, he introduced an alternative option of taking a 20-hour online course to become certified as a submarine; this option also remains available to applicants.
The new law, at least for the next three years, also lifts the limit on the number of hours retired teachers are allowed to fill in without affecting their pension.
The Joplin School District is among those pushing for substitute teachers before classes start this month.
“Many people in our area who have not been able to meet previous substitute teaching requirements would like to work in our classrooms,” said Justin Crawford, director of instructional support and district human resources. , in a press release. “It’s great work for people who thrive in a variety of settings, who like to set their own schedules.”
Joplin, like most school districts, has felt the crisis of a sub shortage, which has been caused nationwide by COVID-19-related staff absences, low salaries and the displacement of applicants. away from public education jobs.
“Finding replacements has been a challenge not just in Joplin, but across the country over the past few years,” Crawford said. “We are grateful that the state is taking steps to alleviate the problem, especially if it means more local candidates getting involved in education.”
Crawford told the Globe that most area school districts use the same software to post substitute teaching opportunities, and certified applicants can log in and book the days and schools they want. Last-minute staff absences, such as those caused by illness, are the hardest to fill, he said.
Crawford said he aims to maintain a 95% fill rate for the Joplin School District, which means 95% of staffing positions are filled at all times. During the worst COVID-19 surges in previous years, the occupancy rate at some area schools fell to 60% or 65%, in part because there were not enough substitute teachers.
“Honestly, I try to get as many subs as possible” for the Joplin pool, he said.
Joplin currently pays substitute teachers $105 a day. Long-term contractors are eligible for up to $115 per day, depending on the number of consecutive days worked.