Garfield Re-2 Schools seek to address substitute teacher shortage with new incentives, extra permanent subs |

Garfield Re-2 Schools seek to address substitute teacher shortage with new incentives, extra permanent subs

Garfield Re-2 substitute teacher and Rifle High School graduate Garrett Robinson is a regular in Re-2 classrooms.
Theresa Hamilton/Garfield Re-2 Schools

Garfield Re-2 schools are taking several measures aimed at addressing the ongoing substitute teacher shortage in the district.

The Re-2 Board of Education on Oct. 27 agreed to a $363,450 package that gives incentive for subs to take more classroom assignments, adds a third permanent sub for each school and ups the bonus pay for regular teachers to cover each other in the classroom whenever needed.

Re-2 Assistant Superintendent Lisa Pierce said the proposal, ultimately approved on a 4-0 vote, represents a “short-term fix” to the problem because of the planned use of temporary federal relief funds.

But, with more than 760 occasions in September alone when substitute teachers were needed across Rifle, Silt and New Castle classrooms, and a shortage of available substitutes, it’s a step in the right direction, she said.

Currently, permanent and long-term substitute teachers are paid $150 per day, and day-to-day subs get $130 per day.

Re-2 now has 23 permanent subs (two per school, plus a trained preschool sub), 11 long-term subs and 35 day-to-day subs, according to a presentation before the board at the Oct. 27 meeting. Three of the sub position are currently open.

The pay is not out of line compared to neighboring school districts. Meeker pays $100-110 per day, Moffat County pays $105-$135, and Roaring Fork Schools pay $119-$125, according to a chart in the presentation.

But Re-2 now plans to duplicate an incentive that Roaring Fork Schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt offer to try to improve substitute teacher numbers.

Included in the package is an extra incentive for substitutes to take on more assignments, at a rate of $100 for every 10 assignments. In addition to the daily rate, a total of 100 assignments would earn a $1,000 bonus at the end of the school year.

Roaring Fork Schools have a tiered bonus that can result in even more money at the end of the year — $2,500 for 150 assignments.

Cost of the incentive program for Re-2 is estimated at $32,300.

In addition to the substitute bonus, the Re-2 board also decided to hire a third permanent substitute per school, at a cost of $280,775; and to improve compensation for internal classroom coverage — upping the hourly rate from $16.25 to $30 — for an additional $50,375.

The district may use federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding to cover at least some of the cost. But outgoing school board member Tom Slappey suggested possibly supplementing that with reserve funds.

“We have to find a way to make it conducive for people who want to come join the district,” he said in support of the plan.

Across the district, there are currently 70 open positions, including 10 certified teaching positions, 50 classified staff positions, seven support staff/district office positions, and three sub positions, according to the report.

The district plans to step up its marketing to fill the substitute positions, including exploring alternative advertising via signage on buses, on grocery store carts, via YouTube and distributing printed fliers to local businesses.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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