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Explore local options for sub teachers

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Denton Record-Chronicle Editorial

Got some spare time on your hands? Want to make a little money helping Denton school children?

Denton ISD needs substitute teachers. When a sub can't be found for an absent teacher, kids in that class are split up and put into other classrooms for the day. We regret that it's happening more frequently. It can make for a chaotic situation.

Caitlyn Jones, the Record-Chronicle's education writer, reported this week that Denton ISD suffered through 35,573 teacher absences during the 2016-17 school year -- roughly 3,000 more absences than 2015-16.

The difficulty surrounding recruiting and retaining qualified substitute teachers is leading Denton ISD to consider outsourcing its substitute teacher program to Education Solution Services, or ESS, a Tennessee-based staffing company that wants to expand into Texas.

We think it is premature for the school board to execute a contract with ESS before the district does all it can to solve the problem locally. We fail to see how an out-of-state company could be more successful finding subs in Denton.

Community groups, working in tandem with Denton ISD, have a vested interest in solving the problem. The vested interest is improvement of public education in Denton.

A variety of reasons lead to teacher absenteeism: short-term and long-term illnesses, injuries sustained in accidents, pregnancy leaves and caring for a sick loved one. Sometimes, sheer burnout from the stress and workload of teaching causes a teacher to take a day off.

Before it calls in the Tennessee cavalry, we hope Superintendent Jamie Wilson and his staff explore every option to reduce absenteeism.

Moreover, a lot of qualified people may not be aware that Denton ISD needs more substitute teachers. It accepts applicants with a high school degree or with a doctorate and everything in between.

Currently, the district pays substitute teachers between $70 and $90 a day, depending on what degree one has earned. A sub willing to work a string of consecutive days for the same teacher can earn an extra $5 to $15 a day. That's not chicken feed for someone who needs extra spending money.

With that said, however, bumping up that salary a bit might help attract more subs.

And don't believe that stuff you see in movies and on television about how students abuse substitute teachers. It's not true.

Smart substitutes are not helpless babysitters. They can follow lesson plans, assign classwork and maintain discipline in a well-managed school. And we believe Denton ISD has more than its share of well-managed schools.

To learn more about substitute teaching in Denton ISD, go to