MCPS expands substitute teacher pool with hiring change

Maryland’s largest school system is changing the requirements for substitute teachers to expand the pool of potential substitutes so it change fill open teaching slots.

Montgomery County’s Board of Education approved a change to its hiring requirements for substitute teachers.

Instead of requiring that substitutes have a bachelor’s degree, the system will now allow applicants with either an associate degree or 60 hours of college credit to be eligible for substitute positions.

Andrew Zuckerman, chief operating officer for Montgomery County Public Schools, said that though the school system has a substitute pool of about 3,000, on any given day, the school system comes up short, with about 120 positions unfilled.

There can be a number of reasons for the shortages.

“Not every substitute teacher wants to work every day,” he said, or they may find an open slot that doesn’t work out logistically.

Zuckerman told board members that a check of hiring requirements in neighboring jurisdictions showed most would accept an associate degree or 60 hours of college credit. He suggested that the county align its requirements with those of its neighbors.

Zuckerman also pointed out that there’s an existing talent pool in the county that isn’t being tapped into because of the current requirements, and that’s the number of candidates who may be working their way toward a teaching certificate in local community colleges, for example.

“The idea of creating more partnerships with local colleges, Montgomery College and others, while candidates are en route to earning their degree — I mean, it’s just win-win,” he said.

Nathan Tinbite, the student member of the board, echoed Zuckerman’s assessment that the change could be a win-win situation, saying that broadening the substitute teacher pool could bring in staff with a “fresh perspective.”

Tinbite told board members that for students, “Sometimes, that one conversation that you might have with that substitute might mean the difference for what you might see for the future.”

Asked what happens when there is a shortage of substitutes, Zuckerman said that other teachers may be asked to fill in during their planning periods, para-educators may step in, or even administrators may cover a class during the day.

It’s expected the change will apply to the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.

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