State seeing shortage of substitute teachers, bus drivers

Over 20 bus drivers were out last week, according to Elmore County Schools' HR director.
Over 20 bus drivers were out last week, according to Elmore County Schools' HR director.(Source: WSFA)
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 10:08 PM CST
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WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) - In a pandemic, substitute teachers play a critical role in keeping schools open.

“A good substitute teacher is what keeps the instruction going on in the classroom,” Elmore County Schools Human Resources Director Susanne Goodin said.

In some parts of the state, there are not enough substitutes to go around.

“We have an extreme shortage of substitute teachers,” State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said.

He explained that substitute teachers are often retirees who may fill in a few days a week.

“Many of those retirees, of course, during COVID have not wanted to be in schools where they might be exposed to COVID,” Mackey said. “So, we lost hundreds of substitutes across the state.”

The shortage is not only fueled by temporary teacher absences, but also teachers leaving the profession entirely.

“They’ve been calling it the ‘Great Resignation’ of people leaving education,” Goodin said. “We’ve had some resignations. We need substitutes in those cases.”

The school system has partnered with staffing agency Kelly Services to provide even more subs and prevent further school closures.

There is also a lack of folks behind the wheel. The need for bus drivers and substitute bus drivers has fluctuated at Elmore County Schools.

Right now, the school system has enough folks to drive its fleet of buses, but that wasn’t always the case. Over 20 bus drivers were out last week, according to the HR director.

“The ones that were not ill were having to run routes that were, you know, two routes, sometimes three routes long, which makes the children late to school,” Goodin said.

The shortages are forcing school systems to reach out to their communities in search of substitute teachers and bus drivers all in the name of quality education.

Those interested in becoming a substitute at Elmore County Schools can call 334-567-1200 to learn about requirements and the onboarding process.

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