LANSING (WWJ) – A dramatic shortage in substitute teachers in Michigan is leaving some districts with up to a fifth of their classes unfilled.
Representative Holly Hughes of Montague in Muskegon County has sponsored bills that would make it easier to allow retired teachers to return to the classroom on a temporary basis.
“We do have a critical shortage right now for teachers in the classroom,” says Hughes. “I just don’t think it’s fair or right that up to 20 percent of the classrooms are not being covered with teachers that are willing to make a difference.”
She says that the move would be a financial win for schools because retired teachers coming back to the classroom would make less than if they were still fully employed by the district.
The daily rate for substitutes is around $85 a day — in some more remote areas the rate is closer to $100 per day.
The first bill Hughes is sponsoring would indefinitely extend a state law – due to expire in July 2018 – allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom as substitutes without forfeiting a portion of their pension.
A companion bill, also sponsored by Hughes, would eliminate a requirement that substitute teachers have at least 90 or more college credits.
Both bills were passed by the state House in May. They must now get the state Senate’s stamp of approval.
In Michigan, most districts use a third-party business to provide substitutes. One is Grand Rapids-based EDU Staff, whose president, Clark Galloway, told lawmakers that 13 percent of requests his company receives for substitutes are going unfilled.