School districts paying premiums for subs amid shortage

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Multiple officials at Kern County school districts paint a picture of intense competition for substitute teachers. It’s sparked a bidding war, raising daily rates for subs higher than $200.

“Individual school districts are, of course, having to compete for the same depleted number of substitute teachers in the pool today,” Rob Meszaros, spokesman for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, said. “One of the primary ways that’s being done is to increase their pay scales for daily substitute teachers.”

It’s a “perfect storm” of factors that includes uncertain schedules for long-term teachers and a shortage of substitutes.

“Pre-COVID, we averaged about 2,000 individuals in the county-wide eligibility pool,” Meszaros said. “That number depleted to about 1,100 last year. Today we have about 1,500 in the eligibility pool.”

Bakersfield City School District has seen students reassigned classrooms because schools couldn’t find a substitute. On Tuesday, BCSD approved an increase to a $215 daily rate for subs — a huge increase from a price point around $150 in previous years. Districts across the county have enacted similar pay hikes.

“That’s something we’re looking at, we’re discussing, and it’s something we’re looking at every year,” Steve Martinez, superintendent of Kernville Union School District said.

Martinez doesn’t see numbers improving in the coming months.

“It really depends on, at least for this year, what’s going on with COVID,” Martinez said. “But I think for the foreseeable future, we’re probably going to have a shortage of substitute teachers.”

Pam Baugher, president of the BCSD Board of Trustees, said we could see another pay increase if a fourth COVID-19 surge forces more absences.

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