IWCS raises substitute pay

Published 10:51 am Thursday, December 16, 2021

Isle of Wight County’s School Board voted on Dec. 9 to authorize pay increases for substitute teachers and one-time stipends for support staff and school administrators.

Effective this month, the daily pay for substitutes who have completed 60 or more college credits will rise from $72 to $90. Pay for substitutes with bachelor’s degrees will rise from $80 to $100 per day, putting the division in line with Suffolk Public Schools. Those with a valid teaching license will be paid $125 daily, up from the previous $96 per day.

Long-term substitutes with bachelor’s degrees will now earn $125 daily, up from the previous $100 per day. The $136-per-day rate for long-term substitutes with a valid teaching license remains unchanged.

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The move is intended to address a regional shortage of substitutes and relieve the strain on Isle of Wight County Schools’ principals, support staff and central office administrators, whom Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton says have had to cover classes when a teacher is absent and a substitute can’t be found.

“Every county is competing for the same subs; a lot of our subs come out of Newport News,” Thornton said.

Per the School Board’s vote, 50 support staff positions will be eligible to receive a one-time stipend of $750. Principals and central office administrators will receive a $1,000 one-time stipend.

The lack of substitutes has resulted in a “domino effect” affecting every single employee, Thornton said, where if an assistant principal needs to cover a class, a central office administrator then has to fill in for the assistant principal, and someone else in the central office has to fill in for the administrator.

As such, the stipends will go to all eligible employees, whether they’ve been thrust into a teaching role or not, in hopes of incentivizing employees to stay.

“We’re losing people because they are working, and working, and working, and they don’t see the relief,” Thornton said.

Thornton hopes to use the division’s remaining CARES Act funds to reimburse the division for the unplanned raises and stipends.

The Dec. 9 vote marks the fourth time in the past three months that the School Board has voted to increase staff pay.

In September, the School Board approved raises for bus drivers after an eight-driver shortage resulted in a number of students arriving late to school and missing after-school activities waiting for a ride. In October, the School Board then approved raises for the school system’s hourly employees. Then, in November, the Board authorized $1,000 stipends for teachers and changes to the school year calendar, giving staff and students a full week off for the Thanksgiving holiday as compensation for teachers having to give up their planning periods to teach classes when there weren’t enough substitutes.

But Thornton expects this to be the last time this school year he asks the School Board to raise pay or give additional, unplanned days off to staff.

“There can’t be any more stipends, or retention stipends, as we go on this year,” Thornton said. “We have to be very critical of days off … we need our kids in school. They’ve missed so much in the last year and a half. They’re still missing stuff now as these teachers are out and people are subbing and buses are late.”

The School Board approved the latest pay increases via three separate motions: one for the $750 support staff stipends, one for the raises for substitutes and a third to approve the $1,000 stipends for administrators. All passed unanimously.