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More substitute teachers needed in Utah, classrooms crowding as a result

Oct 4, 2021, 12:47 PM
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Teacher Corine Barney, at David High School, handing out papers on Sept. 26, 2013. (Photo: Ravell Call / Deseret News)
(Photo: Ravell Call / Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s school districts are still dealing with a big shortage of substitute teachers, and they’d like to get more hired.  One teacher said classrooms are combining and getting crowded in Salt Lake City because they don’t have enough substitutes to fill in.

James Tobler teaches at Highland High School, and is the president of the Salt Lake Education Association.

“It’s a dire situation right now,” said Tobler.

Ideally, he said the Salt Lake City School District should have around 250 substitutes on the list to fill every need. but they only have around 30 right now.

He described combining classes and having 50 to 60 kids to teach. Or teachers using their prep time to fill in, and administrators stepping into the classroom instead of doing their own work.

“Teachers aren’t taking personal days or sick days when they should, because they know their classes won’t have a substitute and their kids will lose a day of instruction,” he said.

He said the shortage was already a problem for years, but it has gotten worse since the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s also something that is also a concern statewide, and nationwide.

The SLEA is working to advertise better and get the word out about substitute opportunities for parents or retired teachers or community members.

Tobler said there may be some bad experiences, but they also hear many great experiences from substitutes.

“You don’t have to work every day, you can choose your jobs. You can even choose the schools you want to work at, and what age groups,” he said.

You have to pass a background check and get fingerprinted. Depending on your education level, you could earn $85 – $130 a day.

 
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More substitute teachers needed in Utah, classrooms crowding as a result