Wareham educators demand solution to substitute shortage

By Matthew Bernat | Oct 25, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Brian Fitzgerald walks away from School Committee members after delivering a letter signed by 181 educators calling for a solution to a substitute teacher shortage.

The Wareham School Committee received a letter signed by 181 educators asking for a solution to a problem with “clear and negative impact” in the district – a substitute teacher shortage.

At Wednesday’s School Committee meeting, fifth grade teacher and union president Brian Fitzgerald delivered the message, saying low pay and large classes are part of the problem.

“The substitutes we do hire are soon overwhelmed and do not return,” said Fitzgerald.

Currently, Wareham substitute teachers are paid $65. Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood reported that a survey of area schools found that Wareham pays its substitute teachers the least while the highest paid substitutes are at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School. There, teachers are paid $90 per day.

Shaver-Hood added that of area schools she found seven pay $80 per day and six pay $75. She noted that the problem goes beyond money, however.

“If I thought the solution would be as easy as raising pay I would bring that recommendation to you,” Shaver-Hood told committee members.

Instead, she recommended a committee be formed consisting of one School Committee member, one union representative and several administrators to examine the problem.

Committee members agreed and Shaver-Hood said she hopes a solution will be found soon.

“We are interested in doing something this fiscal year because it is a concern,” said Shaver-Hood.

Comments (9)
Posted by: Just Me1 | Oct 26, 2017 07:34

Instead of several administrators, why not include a few teachers and substitute teachers? Perhaps those members could identify the problems faced by those trying to do the job and suggest practical solutions.

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Oct 26, 2017 11:36

I agree with Just Me1.  Why have administrators try to figure out the problem, when the answers are with the substitute teachers?  Try calling some back for input.  Try calling some of the current substitutes to see if they are interested in speaking about the issues they face?  Get REAL answers and not just a bunch of administrators guessing what the issues are.


Posted by: Peaches0409 | Oct 26, 2017 14:50

I wish I knew what the answer was but I do know we can't have classrooms with no teachers.

Posted by: OnsetJimmy | Oct 26, 2017 20:15

No surprise here.  Typical Dr. of education can't see the obvious.  It's simple market economics.  Pay a competitive wage and teachers will work.  Why do government and educational entities always need to establish a "committee" to solve an issue.


Just a note.  In Denmark, one of the highest rated education systems in the world, administrators also teach and children do not start school until age 7.  Students also get "paid" by the government to go to college.  Education is big business in this country and students are the least considered group in the equation.

Posted by: Sharkie | Oct 27, 2017 08:07

How about Ms. Shaver-hood steps in and substitutes a few classes and puts herself in their shoes. The regular teachers already arent paid enough to put up with some of the stuff they have to put up with. I personally know one of these 'problem' children and if I was that childs teacher, I would have walked off the job. I cant imagine that a substitute teacher would want to accept such low pay. Especially because usually kids treat the substitutes horribly.

Posted by: jimnerin | Oct 27, 2017 10:39

Let me get this right. I go to school and build a debit to get an education so I can teach. I then take a sub job for minimum wage. Why? I remember  not being very nice to subs in high school. I was under the impression they were paid well to be subjected to it. $65 or even $85 is a joke. an 8 hour shift at B.K pays better.

Posted by: Blondechick | Oct 27, 2017 12:00

A 6 hour day for $65 is not minimum wage. It's actually just below. That is assuming they don't have to clock out for lunch. And really who would work for that little money with 25+ students in a room when  you can get $80+ and 15-20 kids in a room in the next town? It's not rocket science. If you want good reasonable people, you need to pay them like good reasonable people. Even crappy job workers deserve decent pay. Raising the pay would be a great first step in getting quality help.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Oct 27, 2017 19:10

Pay peanuts...get monkeys.


It is hard to believe this is a topic of discussion.  I work locally at a place that's nothing special.  The kids come out of college green as Kermit and start at $60,000 per year.  That's $230 per day.  If they don't advance to $70,000 ($269 a day) within a year they leave and get it somewhere else.


Paying any college educated professional a mere $65 a day is crazy.

Posted by: Just Me1 | Oct 28, 2017 07:03

I think the comments highlight the need to have actual substitute teachers on this committee. I know a few substitute teachers and we have had this discussion a few times. Please remember, most are retired teachers; the work is on-call (except for permanent substitutes, who are paid a different rate), so one works when one wants to work and does not work when they do not; and those who are doing this, as those who teach, are doing it because they want to help improve the lives of their students. One cannot simply look at the pay, since this is money supplemental to their retirement.


The comment about classroom conditions is most germane and a huge problem for regular as well as substitute teachers, and should be addressed by the administration overall. Isn't it time to stop letting the students behave however they want with no consequences?

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