Tallapoosa County School Board Meeting

Tallapoosa County School board members Matilda Woodyard-Hamilton and Carla Talton discuss the agenda at the annual board meeting in Dadeville, Alabama on Tuesday Nov. 16, 2021. The school board voted to increase the pay of substitute teachers and staff. [Jake Arthur/ Tallapoosa Publishers]

DADEVILLE -- The Tallapoosa County Board of Education voted on Wednesday to increase the pay of substitutes and other staff members at their annual board meeting.

The board unanimously voted to immediately increase the pay of substitute teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, office staff and classroom assistants.

Substitute teacher daily pay increased from $75 to $100, bus drivers from $60 to $75, cafeteria workers from $51 to $75 and office staff members and classroom assistants pay increased from $51 to $60.

“We need to do this for two reasons, one it’s the right thing to do,” said Superintendent Ray Porter. “Second, we are going to have to stay competitive with our pay to get subs.”

By increasing the rate of pay for substitute teachers, Tallapoosa County Schools is now on par with Alexander City Schools. According to Alexander City Schools spokesperson Jessica Sanford, substitute teachers there are also paid $100 a day.

However, not all Alabama school districts pay their substitute teacher similarly, according to Susan Willson, HR at Coosa County, substitute teachers are paid $8.50 per hour or just under $60 per day.

Five of the county schools had been struggling to fill the demand for substitutes. Personnel director Nancy Hatcher told The Outlook in December 2020 that the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the problem on both sides.

“Teachers exposed to or positive for COVID-19 are required to quarantine, causing more absenteeism, while many substitute teachers are unwilling to risk exposure," said Hatcher.

School Board president Carla Talton stressed the need for substitute teachers.

“We need subs,” said Talton as the board nodded in agreement.

Substitute teachers, who are certified to teach the class they are subbing, are paid double if they sub for more than 10 consecutive days. Substitute teachers covering for very long periods, such as covering for a teacher on maternity leave often negotiate their pay rate.

Tallapoosa County Schools have a seven hour school day making the new per hour rate for a substitute teacher $14.29 per hour.

This move has come as a nationwide teacher shortage continues to grow. The Economic Policy Institute found in a pre-pandemic study that “The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought. When indicators of teacher quality (certification, relevant training, experience, etc.) are taken into account, the shortage is even more acute than currently estimated, with high-poverty schools suffering the most from the shortage of credentialed teachers.”

The pay increase also coincides with the second annual Thank Alabama Teachers Week, a proclamation issued by the Alabama State Department of Education and Governor Kay Ivey thanking teachers.

“Teachers are too often unsung heroes. And while they painstakingly nurture our children, cultivate young minds and invest in students on every level, many times they go without being told ‘thank you’ for answering their important life calling,” said Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey during a press conference at Dalriada Elementary School in Montgomery on Monday. “This week is meant to focus on giving that much-deserved gratitude to teachers in various ways across the state.”

For more information on how to become a substitute teacher in Tallapoosa, visit their website at www.tallapoosak12.org.

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