News Story

Hiring Substitute Teachers Burdens School Budgets

Teachers in these districts missed 13.7 to 16.4 days last year

As part of an ongoing discussion on how Michigan school districts use substitute teachers, Michigan Capitol Confidential is looking into the number of classroom days that teachers in certain districts miss.

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools was one district in the review. Its 1,061 teachers missed an average of 15.54 classroom days in the 2018-19 academic year. As is common in Michigan, some of those missed days came from teachers doing something else required by the district.

On average, each teacher in Plymouth-Canton missed 1.54 days of class time due to curriculum workshops, 2.81 days to family illnesses and 6.88 days to sick leave. An average of 1.94 missed days were attributed to personal leave, and 1.02 days were due to other school-related duties.

Other reasons for teacher absences from the classroom include: bereavement leave, religious holidays, bonus personal days, jury duty, administrative leave, union-associated business, field trips or sporting events, and unpaid leave, according to the Plymouth-Canton district’s records.

District officials did not comment on whether they have any concerns about the number of days teachers are out of the classroom.

At Warren Public Schools, the average teacher missed 15 days in the last school year. Teachers at Livonia Public Schools missed an average of 13.77 days, and those working at Ann Arbor Public Schools averaged 16.40 days.

Under state law, districts must provide at least 180 days of what it calls “pupil instruction” each year.

Districts are also required to hire substitute teachers to lead classes when a full-time teacher is absent. This requirement places additional strains on school budgets, for the cost can be substantial. For example, teachers in the Ann Arbor school district missed a total of 23,737 days, according to an open records request.

According to officials, the Ann Arbor district spent $3.78 million on substitute teachers last school year.