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For substitute teachers in the Newton school district who had already agreed to specific teaching days for the last quarter of the school year, there were unintended consequences when the governor closed school buildings for the remainder of the school year by executive order last month.
For one, those subs will not be teaching. And until this week, they also were not getting paid.
“Substitute teachers perform an amazing service for a relatively small compensation anyway,“ said Newton USD 373 superintendent Deb Hamm. ”For them to lose this income also puts a hardship on them. In honor of the work for they do for our district every year, and in recognition of the fact that they had already committed time to these openings, we are recommending that the board provide for these substitutes.“
About 45 substitutes had committed to work the equivalent of 230 days between March 23 and May 15.
The cost to the district is about $26,000.
The board agreed to pay for the time that subs had already contracted to provide.
The board was able to pay those costs out of an existing balance in the budget designated for substitute teaching services. Before Monday’s board meeting, there was about $260,000 remaining in that fund.
“We have that left because there is no activity in the third quarter,” Hamm said.
The district was not required by state regulations to pay for the lost time — however, district administration believed that paying for days already contracted was the right thing to do.
Administration said they could not predict what might have happened for a substitute who had not already agreed to days on the calendar.
Substitute teachers do not qualify for unemployment from state or federal sources.
“We had several requests from substitute teachers to the district office concerned. We feel like it is the right thing to do,“ Hamm said. “Normally if a substitute had signed up for a day, and canceled the day, we would pay them.“
Current teachers who are teaching virtually can request a sub for days they are not feeling well, or they can reschedule classes and meetings to avoid the need for a substitute. For a teacher who needs to be gone for more than a day or two, the district can hire a sub to take over virtual classes.