DeKALB – Carrie Larsen of DeKalb said she previously taught full time in Woodstock but is currently a substitute in DeKalb, now that her five kids are in school. She said she started as a sub in January and absolutely loves working with the kids at Littlejohn Elementary School.
Although it gives Larsen a little more job security, she said, she has seen the teacher and substitute teacher shortage affect students. She said she has seen principals and certified reading teachers having to step in as classroom supervisors, and that students are negatively affected by the whole school being understaffed to begin with.
“So it’s like all hands on deck,” Larsen said. “Kids don’t get the resources they need when special teachers get pulled from where they’re supposed to be to get pulled into those classrooms.”
Illinois lawmakers recently passed a law that mandates school districts develop short-term substitute teacher training programs to help address the statewide shortage of teachers and subs. It also says applicants need to have only an associate degree or 60 credit hours from a regionally accredited institution of higher education to be a short-term substitute teacher.
Amanda Christensen, superintendent for the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education, said 286 substitute teachers were enrolled through the county office as of Oct. 31. She said DeKalb School District 428 is the only district that keeps its own local list of subs, in addition to using subs enrolled through the regional office.
Sarah Abate, human resources director for District 428, said about 55 substitute teachers are on the separate list to sub strictly for the district, many of whom are parents and retirees.
“Most of our sub pool is supported through the ROE process,” Abate said.
Christensen said the current number of subs decreased from the past fiscal year, which was fewer than 400. She said there were more than 600 in fiscal 2010 and the number has declined after that.
Christensen said districts also aren’t as willing to send regular teachers to professional development seminars during the day with the sub shortage.
“No building wants to have to double up classrooms or that kind of thing, but we have to have supervision,” Christensen said. “And it can hinder teaching and learning for the day when we just need supervision coverage.”
Those who want to apply to become a substitute teacher within DeKalb County school districts can find more information at dekalbcounty.org/ROE/svs_subs.html