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How to maximize substitute teacher funding

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Managing a school district’s budget is complicated. From annual budget cycles, vendor management, and employee compensation, there are endless financial details that go into making sure a district is efficiently run. 

Despite these numerous responsibilities, it’s essential not to overlook the substitute teacher budget, as investing in high-quality educators—both full-time and temporary—is critical to a school’s success. As districts grapple with the potential exhaustion of ESSR (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding, maximizing substitute teacher funding becomes even more crucial.

Higher pay rates

Substitute teachers are notoriously underpaid for their hard work, and frequently asking for higher pay rates. If you’re looking to recruit subs that are going to stick around for the long haul, consider advertising more attractive rates to potential subs. (However, make sure these new pay rates reflect the value you see in substitute teachers. A recent effort to fairly compensate subs in DC backfired when they felt the $2/hr raise didn’t meet their standards.) 

Consider getting creative with your sub pay. For example, offer bonuses, additional pay for hard to fill roles, or even a boost for a last minute request. By making your subs feel valued for their hard work, the more likely it is that they’ll stick around and keep coming to your school for assignments. By investing in high quality subs now, you’ll reap the benefits later with satisfied subs who are eager to keep returning to your school.

Create an intentional substitute program

When employees are happy and satisfied in their work environment, they are more likely to stick around for the long haul. The same is likely true for substitute teachers. In addition to providing fair pay rates, districts should assess the current experience for substitute teachers? Have they considered what a substitute teacher experiences when they accept an assignment? When they arrive on campus? 

This can look like providing sufficient information before an assignment (i.e. where to park, school policies, point of contact), giving ample notice for a sub to accept an offer, or even creating opportunities for connection at school. Employees, teachers, and subs alike will actively seek other positions if feelings of disconnectedness linger. 

By addressing certain conditions and improving connections, schools will see greater retention, requiring less of your budget to be spent on recruiting later on. 

Minimize unnecessary administrative costs

When’s the last time you went through your substitute teacher management expenses? Odds are, there are a few administrative costs that can be eliminated. By keeping these expenses under control, schools can ensure that funds are put to their best use (aka in the classroom). 

When it comes to financial management, think outside the box and consider innovative solutions. Is your HR department bogged down by training, recruiting, or insurance? Consider partnering with a full-service substitute teacher agency that manages recruitment, payroll, and everything in between, relieving your HR department of the time, resources, and money it requires to source high quality subs.

At Swing, we’re experts in substitute management. When you partner with us, we’re eager to take the lead on those recruiting and hiring methods so that your HR department can focus on full-time staff. Swing Subs are highly qualified, pre-vetted, and eager to work in your classrooms. When you hire with intent, subs will stick around for the long haul, giving your full-time staff peace of mind when they need to take time off.

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Case Study


How San Leandro USD had their "best year" of absence coverage