Shortage of substitute teachers at Hays CISD made worse due to the flu

Hays CISD says flu is part of the cause on why the district doesn't have enough substitute teachers. (KXAN photo)

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) – Hays Consolidated Independent School District says the flu is playing a part in not having enough teachers and substitute teachers in the classroom.

“We’ve got some who have the flu or their children have the flu,” said Kyle Elementary Principal Karen Lucita.

On Thursday, the Kyle Elementary campus had two positions where substitutes were unable to fill in. “One of our subs actually got the flu overnight so we had to rearrange and make that work,” said Lucita.

For the past two weeks the district has been unable to fill around 30 positions with substitutes, on Monday the district had 49 open spots and on Tuesday it had 42–35 of which were teachers who were out.

“In general we’re not in a crisis at this point at all, but we are seeing a few extra unfilled positions this time of year and that’s likely because of the flu,” said Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy.

The district regularly has hundreds of absences in a day. Savoy says the district fills as many as possible. “We look at the fill rate percentage rather than the exact number. Our fill rate is in the upper 80’s, lower 90’s.  So it’s actually pretty good,” he said.

Savoy also adds some of the positions left vacant are teacher aide positions. “So it doesn’t mean that there are 40 classes without a teacher,” he said.

But this isn’t just a seasonal problem; the district says there are unfilled positions all year. “Most people who wanted to make it a full-time job could probably work every day that they are interested in working,” said Hays CISD Substitute Laurie Biscoe.

When there’s not a substitute to fill in, school leaders say there’s always a backup plan to make sure students keep learning.

“If there’s one class we might split the class until we can get somebody,” said Lucita. “Sometimes our interventionist and our instructional coaches, when they have their off periods, they’ll help cover so we can keep our classes together.”

Hays CISD recently increased substitute pay to $90 a day. The district says the change has helped with the number of unfilled positions. To apply for a substitute position at Hays CISD click here.

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