Lack of substitute teachers adding to challenges for local school districts

School districts counting on subs to make up for staffing shortages

SAN ANTONIO – Some local school districts are looking for a lot of unfamiliar faces to head up their classrooms.

They are in need of substitute teachers as they head into a new school year, already faced with challenges due to staffing shortages.

“We need subs. Even though I don’t feel that there’s a shortage at this time, we definitely need subs,” said Kittiya Johnson, Northside Independent School District’s Director of Human Resources for Non-certified and Substitutes.

At the time when Johnson spoke with KSAT 12 News, she said her school district had about 700 people signed up to start the school year as substitute teachers.

Usually, there would be about 1,000, she said.

What’s more, she said, is they may be needed more now than ever as her district tries to compensate for a shortage in some regular staff positions.

“We will have some vacancies starting the school year,” Johnson said. “There are going to be some campuses that start the year off with substitutes (in the classroom).”

Mary Matthews will be doing her part to help out the North East Independent School District, which is facing a similar problem.

A retired teacher, she now chooses to spend her free time back in the classroom, working as a sub.

“I like to get in with the students and see what the latest programs are for them and just reconnect,” Matthews said. “I like to be able to make them feel important and have connections.”

Matthews says she has noticed a drop-off in the number of people like herself who are willing to fill in for regular school staff members.

According to a spokeswoman for NEISD, that district’s pool of subs also is down by hundreds.

She says this is a problem that began in the days after the covid-related closures.

Last year, several local school districts had to resort to incentives, including extra pay, to entice people into working a subs.

Several, including both NISD and NEISD, plan to do the same again this year.

Matthews, meanwhile, has decided to accept a more permanent assignment this school year.

She says she will be working at a school that has a need for a sub on a long-term basis.

Even if there were no extra pay offered, Matthews says she would be dedicated to offering her services.

“As long as I’m mentally and physically able to, I will. I enjoy it,” he said, smiling.

If you’d like to find out more about working as a substitute teacher, click on any of the links below.

About the Authors

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.

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