Missouri Board of Education easing requirements for substitute teachers

Lake Sun Leader

Through a proposed amendment and an emergency rule, the Missouri Board of Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are easing requirements for substitute teachers to ease the challenges of finding substitute teachers.

Local school districts are hoping the change makes it easier to find and retain substitutes, especially now as more substitutes are asking to be removed from availability lists in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, individuals looking to obtain a substitute certificate must complete 60 semester hours or more of college-level credit from a DESE-recognized and regionally accredited academic degree granting institution.

Following the State Board of Education’s decision earlier this week, individuals who possess a high school diploma or equivalent may complete a 20-hour state-approved substitute teacher online training to be eligible for a substitute certificate. The training includes topics such as professionalism, honoring diversity, engaging students, foundational classroom management techniques, basic instructional strategies, supporting students with special needs, and working with at-risk youth.

School of the Osage Superintendent Laura Nelson said the district appreciates that DESE has made the option available to Missouri districts.

"Under normal conditions, we run short on subs. With the added pressure of the current situation, we assume we will make use of this option," Nelson said.

Difficulty finding substitutes is not just a problem for larger districts.

Macks Creek Superintendent Josh Phillips said smaller districts have the same problem finding substitutes to serve their students. This year, Phillips said the district has already had current subs requesting to be removed from the contact list.

Substitutes for Osage can make $100 a day for a teacher, $90 a day for a paraprofessional and $40 a route as a bus driver. Nurses get a rate of $100 with health aids making $90 a day. Cooks, dishwashers and custodians who substitute at Osage make $12 an hour.