Substitute Shortages

Sub discusses difficulties with lack of help

Kaitlin Green, Publication Editor

With an eventful beginning to the school year, it is likely many students have not noticed the lack of substitutes in the building. Like many businesses in the area that are short-staffed, the Blue Valley school district is currently suffering from a shortage of substitutes.

This shortage was made notable at the beginning of the fall semester during the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19. An article published by KSHB 41 News in November of 2020 wrote that on one day, the Blue Valley school district had, “77 substitute requests, with 12 unable to be filled due to a lack of availability.”

Currently, the situation has hardly improved. For example, during the months of September and October, both the math and ELA labs were forced to close on multiple occasions due to unfilled positions.

This unavailability has caused Blue Valley to rely on several substitutes, such as Niki Neal, to provide students with teachers. Legally, each classroom must have an adult with 60 college credit hours in the room, which means office staff can do little to help alleviate this stress.

“There are some crazy days where you’re all over the place covering different classrooms,” Neal said. “There’s definitely been a lot of scrambling.”

Neal, like many others, intended for substitute teaching to be a part-time job. However, the current situation has caused her to spend most days filling various positions.

“I’m here more than I’m not,” Neal said. “There are some days that I’m three different teachers because of the shortage.”

Despite spending most days in the building and often covering multiple positions per day, Neal does not place blame on the administration. She recognizes everyone is working toward the common goal of keeping each classroom functioning.

“You have to be a team player,” Neal said. “The office staff are just doing the best they can to win.”

Despite this difficulty, Neal is still proud to call herself a substitute teacher and loves doing what she does. She encourages other substitute teachers to find the same joy in the job that she does, no matter the challenges.

“You’re in the same building for most or all of the time, so enjoy it,” Neal said. “Get to know the kids and staff, and have that rapport with them — it’ll make your job a whole lot easier.”