Warren County schools shift to new substitute system

Warren County Public Schools has joined a growing list of school districts in Virginia contracting with Source4Teachers to hire and place substitute teachers.

The School Board approved a contract with the substitute outsourcing company in December. After a transition period, the contract took effect March 7.

Director of Personnel George R. ” Buck” Smith said the new program brings increased efficiency to the school’s substitute program and aims for a 100 percent fill rate – which means that every time a teacher takes leave, a substitute takes his or her place.

Besides orientation meetings to introduce Source4Teachers, Smith said different school staff have gone through various training. He said the transition has gone smoothly, although the schools are still working on full integration with the payroll system.

When first considering the partnership with Source4Teachers in the fall, the School Board discussed a program savings of $7,252. The schools’ current proposed budget now factors in a $52,584 expense for substitute teachers. That expense provides for the expected increase in substitutes filling positions.

It also considers the increased pay rates that substitutes are now receiving in Warren County.

Source4Teachers representatives pointed out in the fall that Warren schools previously offered $2 to $40 less per day for substitute teachers when compared with adjacent counties. Smith said that a daily pay increase for substitutes in the program is just a start.

“Obviously we recognize that amount is still below the average in this area … and that is still going to be something over the next few years we’re going to be trying to improve,” he said.

Through the company, Warren County Public Schools now pays non-degreed substitutes $60 per day, degreed substitutes $65 per day and long-term substitutes $120 per day. Smith said the other incentive for Source4Teachers employees is the opportunity for benefits like health coverage, unemployment and 401(k) planning.

The district pays Source4Teachers a percentage markup over the substitutes’ pay rates, which covers all their services. Smith said that it would take time for the schools to see any direct or indirect savings from the program.

Working with Source4Teachers brings in some new technology that the company has used with other school districts. Smith said the human resources systems combine leave time, fill rates and substitute management into one package. He said an ID badge check-in system at each school also improves security.

“I’m really excited about it because it provides us with a lot of data on substitute use and just being able to manage absenteeism,” he said. “It just gives us a lot of information to be more efficient.”

A personnel report from the School Board’s March 2 meeting listed the names of 125 substitute teachers who were released on March 4 as part of the transition. Smith said that Source4Teachers currently has about 90 names in its system and more applications are currently under review.

“The substitutes are getting way more in-depth training than we were able to offer before,” he said.

Smith said the company has reached out and advertised for substitute positions in many different ways. He said the program’s main focus is to build the pool of substitutes that will, in turn, continue to boost the schools’ fill rate.

“At one time, we had 120-plus substitutes on the list and we’re working our way back up to that now,” he said. “We feel like, as far as the fill rate, we’re doing a better job. We just still need to get it to the point where all positions are covered, and that’s coming with increasing that sub pool.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com