Substitute Teachers Paid Fraction Of Full-Time Rate, May Explain Why They’re Hard To Find

Easier to find full-timers, yet official claims they’re in short supply, too

Jim French, a principal within Portage Public Schools and president of the board of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, wrote recently that a shortage of substitute teachers is linked to a shortage of full-time teachers.

He posted a column on the association website with this headline: “Substitute Teacher Shortage Now A Teacher Shortage?”

ForTheRecord says: Comparing the supply-and-demand status of substitute teachers to that of regular, full-time public school teachers is problematic.

For starters, the compensation rates are not close to being comparable.

Rockford Public Schools in Kent County provides an example.

A private company called EDUStaff provides substitute teachers for hundreds of Michigan school districts, including Rockford. It pays $75 a day for a short-term substitute in Rockford.

Regular Rockford teachers work on a schedule of 183 days in a school year, according to the contract between the teacher union and the district. Their average pay was $63,937 in 2015-16, the most recent year state data is available. That comes to over $349 per day, more than 4.5 times what substitutes are paid.

Also, full-time teachers get health insurance and other benefits not offered to substitute teachers. Health insurance typically costs a school district an additional $13,000 for a family plan. The value of this benefit alone comes to $71 per day, or just $4 less than the daily gross pay of a Rockford substitute.

This difference may explain why there is a shortage of substitute teachers, even as school districts around the state report sometimes getting hundreds of applicants for just a single full-time teaching position.

Rockford Public Schools had 598 applicants for 21 teaching positions it posted during the past school year, an average of 28.5 per opening. The school district said it has 10,994 applicants currently in a pool to choose from.