Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wise Cuts Funding for Subs; Money Is Available for Two Training Days per Teacher

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wise Cuts Funding for Subs; Money Is Available for Two Training Days per Teacher

Article excerpt

Byline: TIA MITCHELL

Duval County Superintendent Joseph Wise has cut funding for substitutes, a move that is forcing principals to find creative ways to provide training opportunities for teachers.

Substitutes are generally used to cover classes for teachers who receive training during the school day. Last year, teachers spent the equivalent of 5.3 school days in training on average.

Wise has allocated schools enough funding this year to pay for substitutes to cover approximately two days of training per teacher. That leaves principals some difficult choices: Limit training, do it after school, cover classes using existing faculty or find other sources within the school's budget to pay for substitutes.

By reducing the number of school days teachers miss for training, Wise is expecting to save $4.2 million over the course of the school year.

He said teachers will still be able to get the professional development they need, but he hopes that more of it will happen while the teacher is in the classroom or during times already set aside for professional development.

Duval Teachers United President Terrie Brady said that although the union does not oppose the cost-cutting directive, she is concerned that it may affect teachers' ability to obtain training required by the district and the state. Asking teachers to train on weekends and evenings could require additional dollars in premium pay, she said.

"In a tight budget crunch year, the money is not there," Brady said.

While the state's budget deficit is the driving force behind the change, Wise said spending on substitutes needed to be reined in. The district outsources the recruiting and placing of substitutes to Kelly Educational Staffing. Last year, the firm was paid $14 million.

On average, teachers last year were absent 18 days and one in 10 classrooms had a substitute teacher every day. Substitutes are used for training days, sick days, personal leave and filling vacant teaching positions.

Wise said he is encouraging principals to use professional development time more efficiently and prioritize.

"I think this is going to be a good thing to have to go through, even though I know what I'm asking people to do is not easy," Wise said. …

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