ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools is asking for help tackling a severe shortage of substitute teachers.
Wednesday night, the school board approved a contract with an outside firm to help with recruiting. The teacher’s union, Albuquerque Teachers Federation, said filling this substitute shortage could also help retain more qualified, full-time teachers.
“Until we find a way to make teaching an attractive profession, then sometimes we have to have a long-term sub in the classroom,” ATF President Ellen Bernstein said.
Bernstein added that part of the problem with retaining qualified teachers is because there aren’t enough substitutes to fill in when needed, hurting morale or forcing other licensed teachers to shuffle responsibilities to fill in.
The district board approved a contract with Kelly Services, a firm with a focus on recruiting substitute teachers and substitute educational assistants.
“The teachers will be relieved that they have someone, the principals will be happy and the children will benefit,” Bernstein explained.
APS said right now they need to nearly double the number of subs in its pool to 2,000 total to cover open shifts and unfilled teacher openings.
Staff said about 30 percent of the time when a teacher calls in sick or takes time off, other teachers, administrators or educational assistants have to step in.
“We should give it a year, and if it improves we should figure out whether or not we’re going to keep outsourcing,” Bernstein said.
As for filling full-time teaching spots, it’s unclear just yet if Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s 6% salary increases for teachers statewide are helping draw more candidates.
APS still has about 163 teacher vacancies leading into this school year, nearly 40 more than this time last year.
APS still has three more weeks to hire teachers. They’ll host a job fair on Wednesday. District officials say they’re hopeful the governor’s 6% raises will help bring in more candidates.
The district hopes the contract with Kelly Services will go into effect around October. Substitutes will get the same pay as they would with APS, but something new is they will have the option to get benefits, like health care.
For more information about Wednesday’s job fair, click here.