Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2007

District to contract agency for substitute teachers

July 19, 2007

The De Soto School District is changing the way it hires substitute teachers.

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education voted Monday to approve a one-year service agreement for substitute teachers with Morgan Hunter Co., an Overland Park-based staffing agency, based on review by the district's attorney.

De Soto is now the second district in Kansas to enter such an agreement. The Eudora school district started using the company's services in February.

Morgan Hunter will be responsible for hiring and assigning substitutes to the district based on requests for service.

District human resources director Mark Schmidt said the agreement would put less strain on the district when hiring substitute teachers.

"The misconception is the only thing (Morgan Hunter) has to do is call subs," he said. "There is organization and training. Currently, we don't do any training for our substitute teachers. They come in, we check their references, we sign them up and they are in the classroom."

In the past, it cost the district about $32 a day to put a substitute in a building because of the strain it put on office staffs to contact them, Schmidt estimated. The district employed 139 substitutes last year each from one to 115 days of work.

Teachers also will be able to use an automated system to request a substitute and specify their area of expertise, Schmidt said.

The change also will help with planning, Schmidt said.

"When I was at Lexington Trails Middle School, it was third hour and I had a kid come in and say, 'Hey we don't have a teacher,'" Schmidt said. "It turns out the teacher had called in that morning but for some reason a sub didn't get assigned.

"With this system, we know who is not going to be here and who is."

The new contract will cost the district about $21,000 more than what is paid for substitute teachers now, but Schmidt said it was the price of convenience.

Eudora USD 491 superintendent Marty Kobza said his district has been satisfied with the results of its contract with Morgan Hunter, notably the staff training and screening process the company offers.

"We weren't providing staff development and training to substitutes," he said.

Kobza said he expected De Soto would see similar results.

"I'm optimistic for De Soto," he said. "I think they are going to enjoy having the service."

Board member Jim Thomas said he especially liked that substitutes were evaluated.

"It's needed and a very positive improvement that we are doing evaluations on substitute teachers," he said. "This is a very positive step forward because this is the way I hire temp folks right now."

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