School Business Affairs April 2016 - page 17

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SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | APRIL 2016
17
Running Out of Subs: Doing More
with Fewer Teachers
Districts can address substitute teacher shortages
with effective workforce management.
By Glenn Clayton
HUMAN RESOURCES
the district experienced more overall teacher absences
this school year than last.
Working with a talent management company, the
district was able to recruit new substitute teachers and
increase the average number of days a substitute works
in a given month. This strategy yields the greatest
improvement in fill rates.
For example, let’s say a substitute shifts from working
an average of three days a week to an average of four
days a week. The district has filled four more classrooms
per month without hiring a new substitute. Making that
change with hundreds of substitutes can make a dra-
matic difference in a district’s overall fill rate.
Recruitment alone can’t solve the
problem. Districts must find ways
to improve their classroom fill rates
by better managing their existing
substitute workforce.
Although that approach makes sense, how do you actu-
ally do it? Here are the top three things that any district
can do immediately to improve its substitute fill rates:
1. Implement Workforce Rules
Effective workforce management requires making rules
that everyone can follow. Set a minimum number of
days that your substitutes are expected to work in order
to stay in the sub pool, and establish expectations about
cancellations and no-shows.
Those who request substitutes should also have rules.
We have found that about 40% of teacher absences are
reported the day of the absence. If an absence is reported
less than 90 minutes before school starts, it is less likely
to be filled. Teachers should be expected to report
absences at least 90 minutes before school starts.
Track the data and enforce the rules you set.
D
istricts everywhere are struggling with teacher
shortages—not only shortages of full-time
teachers, but also substitute teachers. That
situation means lower absence fill rates and
more empty classrooms.
Recruitment alone can’t solve the problem. Districts
must find ways to improve their classroom fill rates by
better managing their existing substitute workforce. Jef-
ferson County Schools in Birmingham, Alabama, did
just that, improving their substitute fill rates even though
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