Demand for substitute teachers rises as temperature drops
The demand for substitute teachers is high and the supply is low. While the Park City School District does not have a shortage of full-time teachers, finding substitutes is difficult.
The district fills substitute teacher positions by using an automated system. A teacher calls and leaves a message saying he or she needs a substitute teacher, the system will then call the appropriate people who might be able to fill the position. If it does not reach anybody the job stays open.
Substitute Teacher Coordinator, Nancy Hilton, explains that substitute teachers are hard to find on certain days, "Monday and Friday is the worst time because a lot of substitutes want a three-or four-day weekend."
A lack of benefits and inconsistent work hours may also be part of the problem. "They do not offer any benefits or a retirement program when you’re a substitute," Hilton says. She also notes the work is, "not something you can count on every day."
The variable hours are appealing, though, to some of the people who become substitute teachers. Beth Hoburg, who often substitutes at Treasure Mountain and Ecker Hill says she likes to work all the time and pretty much does but adds, "You can sub as much as you want or as little. Subs like the flexibility of the job."
The school district must accommodate the schedules of people who are willing to substitute for them. The teachers sometimes hold second jobs or are homemakers with children. Hilton says substitute teaching is ideal for these people because it allows them to work during any free time they might have.
Many substitutes are seasonal. "Very qualified people do it for the spring and the fall when they come here," says Hilton.
Winter proves to be a challenge because some potential substitute teachers hit the slopes. Hoburg knows a substitute who is a competitive skier and is unable to work for the district during winter season.
Hoburg also surmises people don’t take jobs during the snowy months because of the dangerous drive up Parley’s Canyon.
"You have a lot of substitute teachers who have to commute up from the valley and it’s not a really good thing to be doing at 6 a.m. on a Monday after a bad snowstorm," Hoburg says.
The application process poses a barrier for some. "When I explain to people what they need, they don’t return their application," Hilton says. She explains the Bureau Criminal Identification forms intimidate some of the applicants.
Hilton notes that many substitute teachers are very selective about the area they will teach in. "A lot of teachers only want to do special ed because they probably fill a need and want to be more of a service," she says.
The district is trying to combat the shortage with advertisements in all of the local papers.
Regardless of the problems, PCSD is still a pleasant place to work. Hoburg says the teachers are consistently prepared for their substitutes which creates a nice work environment.
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