Teachers and administrators across the state complain about a lack of substitute teachers, which State Senator Mike Groene, the Education Committee Chairman, hopes to gather data about.
His bill, LR 130, proposes to study when and why substitute teachers are being used and their financial impact. He also hopes to determine whether certain state policies are causing teachers to be out of their classrooms too often.
“First we’ve got to find out is the trend upward – Is demand higher than it was 20 years ago. My assumption is that it is. Are we just overwhelming teachers and administrations with getting inservice in. You know, we added suicide prevention a couple of years ago. Is there an expansion of extracurricular activities? I don’t know. Is there a shortage of substitutes or is the reason demand is up – that's what we need to find out - and how can we curb demand?”
Nancy Fulton, Nebraska State Education Association President, agrees there is a real shortage of substitutes in the state, although she is not sure this is a new problem.
“I was speaking with a group of principals and superintendents at a presentation I was giving last week, and so I asked them, I said, do you have a shortage of substitutes, and they went, “Yes!” I’ve had teachers tell me, I go to school ill, when I really should be staying at home, or when I have a child who’s sick or needs me at home, knowing that if I don’t go they will have to split the kids into other sections, which is not beneficial for the students.”
Fulton says she does not have data to prove that sub usage is up, but she does think there is an increased awareness of the problem.
Groene says if data collected could help reduce the number of subs used, some of that money could go to teacher salary increases instead.
For more information, the website is nebraskalegislature.gov