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Carlisle Area School Board recently approved an incentive pay program to encourage substitute teachers to select positions in Carlisle before neighboring school districts.

The program is tailored to head-off anticipated shortages in classroom coverage during the last 39 instructional days of the academic year – April 3 to June 1.

Superintendent John Friend said the last 39 days tend to be a peak time for faculty members to take personal days off from the classroom.

As spring progresses, there is an increase in field trips and other end-of-year activities that place greater time demands on faculty, said Bruce Clash, chairman of the board’s policy and personal committee.

Under the program, a substitute must work a minimum of 25 days to qualify for a $400 bonus, Assistant Superintendent Christina Spielbauer said.

Those working beyond 25 days will receive an extra $15 per day increasing their per diem pay from $90 to $105, Clash said. He added the program will cost the district about $4,300.

The side benefits of the incentive program are “immeasurable” in its expected impact on fill rates, teacher morale and the ability of students to have consistency in instruction, Clash said.

“It has been used in the past, so I would assume that it would work again,” Friend said. “We didn’t use it last year because we were feeling our way around with the new substitute service.”

District staff recommended the board reinstate the incentive program because other school districts in the area are implementing a similar end-of-year policy to head-off anticipated shortages, Friend said.

The school board in mid-April 2015 approved a contract to outsource the district’s substitute teacher services to Source4Teachers. The New Jersey firm provides a central recruiting and hiring process designed to relieve some of the shortages in coverage that Carlisle and other school districts are experiencing.

“Overall the fill rates have improved greatly since the district contracted with Source4Teachers, said Spielbauer who recently briefed the committee on the effectiveness of the program. According to her, district and Source4Teachers staff have worked together to maintain average daily fill rates in the mid-90 percent range and long-term and extended day substitute fill rates of about 100 percent.

Year-over-year fill rates have improved an average of 8 percentage points depending on the month. The fill rate in September 2016 improved by 13 percent to 98 percent compared to 85 percent in September 2015.

Recruiting efforts have included the weekly posting of fliers, job fairs twice a year, recruiting events at rotating locations throughout Cumberland County and increased advertising throughout the region.

The initiative to outsource substitute teachers services is an example of how the process of board deliberation and input from residents can work hand-in-hand to achieve positive results, said Deborah Sweaney, board member. “It has made a difference and saved us money.”

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News Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.