Camdenton School District officials are optimistic that changing how substitute teachers are recruited will not only help with placement but save time and free up staff for other job responsibilities.
The goal is to have a pool of substitute teachers to meet the needs of a school district with 350 certified teachers and 50 paraprofessional positions that need to be covered during absences.
The district is now partnering with Penmac of Lebanon to handle substitute scheduling and training. Camdenton is one of several schools in the area that has moved to an employment service. Lebanon, Waynesville, Republic, Springfield, Houston and Willard have also made the move to Penmac.  
The task of staffing for absences is daunting, according to Camdenton Assistant Superintendent Ryan Neal.
Each building designates one person to staff absences and fill rates have suffered. As a result, the district often pulls teachers from their planning time to cover other teachers where needed, compounding the problem, Neal said.
“We do not have the resources to evaluate the effectiveness of our substitutes. We outsourced our substitute services and by partnering with them we increased our substitute pool by about 230 substitutes. We estimate that our fill rate will increase to the 97th percentile,” he said.
Prior to finalizing the partnership, Neal said district representatives were in contact with each school working with Penmac to get feedback. All of the schools were satisfied with Penmac and most of them spoke of how it improved their processes. Penmac is constantly recruiting substitutes to increase their pool.   
Penmac handles recruiting, paperwork, screening as well as professional development and training.
Neal said teachers will notice little to no change in the substitute process. They will request substitutes in the same way they have but it will go through Penmac and not staff at the various buildings. Teachers can still request the substitutes that they prefer which is a popular practice  and now have the opportunity to rate substitutes and provide feedback that will help improve their teaching.
For substitutes, Neal said the district no longer employs them. All substitutes work for Penmac. All of the substitutes the district employed were notified of the decision and encouraged to apply with Penac, Neal said.
“By working for Penmac, substitutes can earn investment opportunities and contribute to a 401K. They will also have the opportunity to participate in two paid professional development days as well as safe schools training. Substitutes that work for Penmac are observed on a regular basis and are provided feedback to become better teachers,” Neal said. ‘Under the current regulations of the Affordable Care Act, we have had to wait six months before we could hire our retirees. Now retirees can apply with Penmac and be used immediately. With Penmac, substitutes are paid weekly. We pay monthly.”   
According to information provided by the district, there will be significant savings by being able to redirect staff members who have previously spent time on payroll, on boarding and assigning substitutes. The district will no longer reimburse substitutes for background checks. That responsibility transitions to Penmac and there is a potential savings from unemployment and workman’s compensation in the rare event a substitute is injured.
The district will not see a decrease in costs as far as paying for substitutes on a daily basis.
“We will pay Penmac and then substitutes will be paid by Penmac,” Neal said.