Little pledges $10 million to combat substitute teacher shortages

Gov. Brad Little Governor Brad Little reads to children at Hawthorne Elementary school in Boise during a classroom visit in 2019. Sami Edge/Idaho Education News.

Gov. Brad Little will put $10 million toward combatting substitute teacher shortages plaguing Idaho’s K-12 schools amid a surge of confirmed coronavirus cases.

New “Substitute Teacher Recruitment Grants” will help Idaho’s schools “recruit and retain substitute teachers and other classroom support staff,” Little’s office announced in a press release Friday.

Staffing shortages — especially among subs and bus drivers — have become a hurdle for K-12 leaders across the state in recent weeks. School districts may use funds announced Friday to provide bonuses for subs on top of what they already make, Little’s office said.

The money comes with another targeted remedy: paid time off for Idaho’s executive branch agency employees to work as subs.

“That means state employees will not have to tap into their vacation or sick leave to serve their communities as a substitute teacher,” the press release states.

Little urged Idahoans capable of working as subs or in other school support staff positions to contact their school districts and “get signed up.” Those interested must still meet school districts’ requirements for being hired and pass all screening processes.

“My priority throughout the pandemic has been to ensure in-person instruction for our students and minimize disruptions to learning as much as possible,” Little said. “The availability of substitute teachers to step in when needed is critical to ensuring our students have the best chance at success.”

Friday’s press release included no details about steps districts and charter schools can take to receive some of the $10 million. Press secretary Marissa Morrison Hyer did not immediately respond to questions about how local leaders can gain access to the money.

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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