Johnston County substitute teachers will get hundreds of extra dollars each month to try to help keep classrooms staffed during a time of acute worker shortages.
The Johnston County school board approved a plan Tuesday to temporarily provide substitute teachers a new stipend of $125 to $525 per month depending on how many days they work. The extra pay comes as Johnston County and schools across the state and nation are facing severe staffing shortages, including for substitute teachers.
“One doesn’t need to search far to recognize that businesses and organizations are struggling to fill vacancies,” Brian Vetrano, the district’s chief of human resources, told the school board.
Vetrano detailed a lengthy list of vacancies in North Carolina’s seventh-largest school district, including 100 teacher openings in August. That compares to only 24 vacancies in August 2018 before the coronavirus pandemic.
The school board approved a 1 percentage point increase in the salary supplement paid to teachers and assistant principals. Johnston supplements the salaries paid by the state.
The $1.75 million for the teacher and assistant principal raises became available after the school board approved changes this month putting new rules on how racism and history can be taught in classrooms.
The Johnston County Board of Commissioners had required the new district policy in return for providing an additional $7.9 million in school funding. The new rules say teachers can be disciplined or fired if they teach that American historical figures weren’t heroes, undermine the U.S. Constitution in lessons or say that racism is a permanent part of American life.
Subs will get more money
Under the newly approved plan:
▪ Substitutes who fill in for a teacher at least five full days each calendar month will receive a $125 stipend.
▪ Substitutes who fill in for a teacher at least 10 full days each calendar month will receive a $300 stipend.
▪ Substitutes who fill in for a teacher at least 15 full days each calendar month will receive a $525 stipend.
Substitutes get paid $80 per day unless they have a North Carolina teaching license, which raises the daily pay to $103.
Instructional assistants who serve as substitutes when teachers are out will also be eligible for the incentive pay.
The extra monthly stipend will also go to people who sub for a teacher assistant in an exceptional children’s classroom, including PreK classes.
Johnston keeping face masks
Also on Tuesday, the school board voted 4-3 against making face masks optional. Under state law, school boards must vote monthly on their face mask policies.
After the motion was defeated, the board unanimously voted to apply to join a new state study that would allow students who’ve been exposed to COVID to not be quarantined. To stay in school, those students would have to pass COVID tests and be asymptomatic.