SAN ANTONIO — Another boost in pay is in effect for substitute teachers in San Antonio.
The North East Independent School District (NEISD) is the latest district to make the move, hiking pay by more than 20%.
The decision came as the district made history Friday with the highest number of teachers calling out.
"This week especially has been really a big challenge. Not just for us, but I think all school districts, all businesses, all restaurants," said Aubrey Chancellor, Executive Director of Communications for NEISD.
Administrators, like Jennifer Gutierrez, are now stepping in to help fill the void.
Just before winter break, Gutierrez went back to her roots and filled in as a substitute teacher.
"I have served in a 4th grade classroom most recently in a teaching role. I've also served in a Pre-K classroom as an assistant," said Gutierrez, who has previously served as a principal, assistant principal, instructional coach and teacher.
Gutierrez works in NEISD's Central Office as the Executive Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction. But now, once a week, she's back in the classroom.
"We're serving in any role whether it's cafeteria, arrival, dismissal, in the classroom, wherever we're needed," said Gutierrez. "We created a spreadsheet that allows for our team at Central Office to support our campuses on a daily basis, especially our campuses with the highest need of unfilled vacancies...Everyone has really pulled together to go out and help."
60 staff members from the district's central office are filling in as NEISD works to hire more substitute teachers.
"This week early on we saw about 188 positions that were not able to be filled with substitutes in the classroom," said Chancellor. "Today, we reached our highest number we've seen before. We had 300 unfilled substitute teachers."
After raising pay for substitutes a couple of months ago, NEISD's board approved another boost this week.
This includes $120 a day for certified teachers and $150 for substitutes who can stay for the long-term.
If a substitute teacher works 20 days within a 9-week period, they get an extra $100. For those who work Fridays, they'll earn $20 more for coming in on the most popular day to call out.
"For the amount of teachers that we have had call in, they have to put the reason for it and it's 'family/personal illness'," Chancellor explained. "It could be COVID and it is in some cases, but it's also those other illnesses going on right now and also allergies that are taking a really big toll."
The pay boost will last through June 30, which marks the end of the current fiscal year. Chancellor says if and when it's necessary to increase pay further, that's something the board can revisit.
On the district's Facebook page, they say parents have called and e-mailed asking how to help in this situation.
The district says for parents to call their child's campus and ask to volunteer. The principal will be able to determine where parents can help.
To sign up to volunteer, visit neisd.net/volunteer.
If you'd like to register as a substitute teacher, visit neisd.net/hr or call the district's Human Resources office.
All substitutes and volunteers must pass a background check.