State employees subbing in schools can get paid twice

Eighteen state executive branch employees have worked 158 hours as substitute teachers and some are getting paid twice for one-day’s work, though double-dipping was not the intent of the governor’s plan to help schools during a staffing crisis.

Gov. Brad Little announced in September that executive branch employees would get paid-leave for serving as substitute teachers, as COVID-19 exposure among educators was crippling K-12 school staffing in districts across the state, forcing some schools into temporary closures.

The state has paid those employees $4,618 for subbing during their regular work hours, said Division of Human Resources director Lori Wolff. But school districts can pay them, too. State Department of Education spokeswoman Kris Rodine said state employees can receive school districts’ stipends for substituting.

That means taxpayers are footing the bill twice for some subs.

The goal of freeing up executive branch employees was to help districts meet staff shortages, “without utilizing district resources,” according to information shared by the governor’s office.

“Ultimately, the decision is up to the district and/or charter school to reimburse more. But that’s not the intent of this benefit,” the governor’s education policy advisor Greg Wilson said in an email.

Char Jackson, spokeswoman for the West Ada School District, says eight executive branch employees have signed up to substitute teach in that district so far. Seven have chosen to be paid the districts’ $80-$90 substitute stipend.

Boise spokesman Dan Hollar said his district isn’t tracking whether or not substitutes are executive branch employees. That means any executive employees would be paid the district’s stipend by default. Boise pays $85 per full-day for classified substitutes and $95 for a full-day in a certified position.

Executive branch employees are limited to 16 hours of paid leave every two weeks under Little’s program, which started on Sept. 20.

The governor also pledged $10 million for districts to hire subs, bus drivers and nutrition staff, or to add supplemental pay for those hard-to-fill positions.

Districts have used about half of the $10 million available to them for staffing, Rodine said.  They have until December 15 to use those funds.

Superintendent Sherri Ybarra is among the state employees boosting the substitute corps. She’ll work in Mountain Home elementary schools all day on Wednesday and Thursday, Rodine said — and she won’t be accepting payment from the district.

In a letter this month, Ybarra called on parents to help out in classrooms as well. Folks interested in subbing can find an online intro through the SDE and Idaho Digital Learning Alliance, here.

Sami Edge

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