BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Providing in-class instruction amid a global pandemic has posed many challenges for school districts, including the need for substitutes.
Kristy Ogden and Allen Radlinski regularly answer the call to serve as substitutes in the Maumee City School District.
For Ogden, a mother of three children in the district, the opportunity to sub provides a chance to see the innerworkings of the district.
“To me, it’s a really good learning experience, especially if you have kids in the district,” she said. “You get to know more behind the scenes, so it helps you as a parent understand how the inside runs. I appreciate that. I like having that knowledge.”
For Radlinski, a retired human resources executive, the opportunity provides him a chance to give back to the community.
“The most important thing about this is that you have to want to be there to help the kids,” he said. “That’s the reason that I do it, to help the school system.”
Unfortunately, there are not enough people like Ogden and Radlinski currently working in the Maumee district. According to Superintendent Dr. Todd Cramer, the challenge of finding enough substitutes is so dire at this time that it could potentially impact the future of in-class learning.
“At this point in the COVID pandemic, not having enough staff to operate our buildings due to the need to quarantine or isolate is the No. 1 threat that could cause us to revert back to remote education. In Maumee, actual COVID cases to date have been minimal and have not caused a substantial disruption to our ability to educate our students,” he said.
The problem of finding district substitutes is not restricted to Maumee or even to Northwest Ohio, as districts across the country face the problem, he added.
“There is a shortage of substitute school staff across the state. What once was an issue that mainly impacted rural and urban districts … suburban districts, such as ours and those across Ohio, are all facing a similar challenge,” he said.
For the past several years, the district has experienced a downward decline of substitutes, added district communications director Nancy Sayre.
“This has been the result of an improving job market and alternative employment opportunities for potential substitutes,” she said. “The pandemic exacerbated the problem. As an example, we have 14 regular substitutes who have chosen not to work for us this school year because of health concerns.”
The district works to recruit subs using social media, online employment sites, through word of mouth from parents and staff and in local media classified advertisements. Rate of pay ranges from $9.00 to $17.00 per hour (see chart).
Sayre cited the benefits of working as a sub, including the variety of job types and schedules, which makes it ideal for college students, those who are retired but wanting to work sporadically or those who already have a part-time job but are looking for more work.
“Substituting also works for parents of school-age children because we have schedules that offer a couple of hours in the middle of the school day when their children are at school,” she said.
Individuals with a four-year college degree in any subject area meet the Ohio Department of Education requirements to be a substitute teacher at any grade level and in any course. A high school diploma is necessary for all operational positions.
For Ogden, the fluid schedule allows her to keep up with her family responsibilities while still getting out into the workforce.
“I really like the flexibility of it,” she said. “Sometimes I like having a day off to get things done around the house or go to a doctor appointment, but at the same time I feel like I am working and getting out and interacting with people, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds in my opinion.”
Radlinski, age 71, first began serving as a substitute several years ago in Liberty Center, where his daughter-in-law works. He also serves at Evergreen, Delta and Swanton schools. This year, after seeing an ad in The Mirror Newspaper for substitute openings, he decided to pursue substitute teaching in the Maumee district.
“It’s closer to home, so I did the online application and had a phone interview and was approved,” he said. “I enjoy it. I try to stick to three days, that’s my goal.”
Radlinski enjoys staying active. In addition to serving as a sub, he is involved in youth sports, serving as a high school official for basketball, volleyball, football and lacrosse.
“I don’t enjoy sitting around all day,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed with the Maumee district. I’ve gone to the high school and officiated basketball and volleyball games and matches and that’s why I sort of picked the school. I am familiar with them and I feel comfortable with them.”
Those interested in information about signing up to be a substitute in the Maumee district may follow this link to the Maumee employment webpage: http://www.maumee.k12.oh.us/employment/index.php.
For additional information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the administration offices at (419) 893-3200.