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Facing a shortage of substitute teachers, the Urbana School Board offers them a raise

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Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Angi Franklin addresses the Urbana School Board, which approved a pay raise for substitute teachers.

URBANA – Urbana District 116 is the latest area school district to raise pay for its substitute teachers. The Urbana school board approved the increase Tuesday night.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Angi Franklin told the school board that the raise would be the first one for District 116 substitute teachers in more than four years.

“And we are requesting to raise the day-to-day sub rate from $110 to $130,” Franklin said. “It’s still not going to be the highest in the area. However, it will be more competitive that what we are now.”

This will be the first pay increase for substitute teachers in District 116 in more than four years. Franklin says the Champaign Unit 4 school district also pays its substitutes $110 a day, but she expects them raise the rate as well.

Franklin says many school districts have been struggling with a shortage of substitutes and other employees for some time, with the pandemic only making things worse. She says the Urbana district will be offering other incentives to attract substitutes, such as free meals in the cafeteria, and mentoring that is specific to the classes they will be teaching.

Franklin says the district can afford the pay raise for substitute teachers, because it spent very little on them in the last school year, when classes were largely held remotely. She says the district continues to spend little on substitutes, because there are just so few available.

Urbana Education Association president Alicia Trezise says she hopes pay raise will help bring more substitute teachers to Urbana schools.

In an interview with Illinois Newsroom, Trezise said Urbana schools face a problem common to many school districts — a shortage of substitutes.

“We have open slots every day where we don’t have enough substitutes to cover,” said Trezise. “And so, teachers are giving up their prep time and their lunch time to fill in for our colleagues who have to be out for one reason or another. It feels like it is a critical situation.”

At Tuesday night’s Urbana school board meeting, board members discussed possibly raising pay even more, if the increase to $130 doesn’t bring in more substitute teachers. Members also discussed possibly offering a stronger health insurance benefit for substitutes.

While Urbana pays its substitutes more than some other school districts, it certainly not the highest in the area. The Mahomet-Seymour school board voted recently to raise daily pay for substitute teachers to as much as $150 a day, beginning November 1.

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Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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