GFPS considering additional pay for subsitutes

It’s getting harder for Great Falls Public Schools to get substitute teachers and COVID has been further straining the situation, so the district is asking the school board to use some federal COVID relief funds as additional compensation for substitutes who work more consistently in November and December.

The board will consider the request during their Oct. 25 meeting.

“Teacher absences have increased over the last two years and substitutes working daily has decreased as well. Some of the absences and lack of coverage is due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the staff report.

This district chart shows the daily average teacher absences, average of substitutes working and substitute fill rates for the last three school years:

“Due to the increasing lack of coverage for teacher absences and the stress this is causing for teachers and
administration, it is necessary to compensate our substitute teachers beyond their normal rate in order to ensure
adequate staffing,” according to staff.

Staff are proposing to use their one-time ESSER funds to pay an additional $400 to substitutes who work a minimum of 25 days, four of which much be Fridays, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 21.

GFPS planning to use ARPA funds for facility improvements, new classrooms

“This is being proposed over a two-month trial period of critical instruction for students. If it is successful, we will
look to continue this model into the future,” according to staff.

Staff doesn’t have a definitive cost projection, but their goal is a 75 percent daily fill rate.

The average is 72 teachers absent daily, that goal requires 54 substitutes to work daily and the cost of those received an additional $400 would cost $21,600, according to staff.

In July, Lance Boyd, GFPS director of student services, said the district was going into the next round of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, or ESSER, and the American Rescue Plan funds.

GFPS monitoring COVID to make plans for upcoming school year

The district received $10.02 million in this round of ESSER funds that can be spent from July 1, 2021 to Sept. 1, 2023 for COVID related needs. Boyd said 100 percent of those funds will support the district’s strategic plan for re-engagement, reintegration and remediation.

He said that $5.9 million will go into remediation efforts, $2.2 million into re-engagement and $1.9 million into reintegration.