Joint School Committee approves raise for substitute teachers

Sep 23, 2021

The ORR Joint School Committee voted at a Sept. 23 meeting to raise wages for substitute teachers at OR schools in order to attract more candidates for the positions.

The raise follows a similar action taken last year which the committee decided was necessary to maintain an adequate pool of qualified substitutes.

When last year’s wage increase expired automatically at the end of the school year, the committee hoped to be able to revert to the old rates moving forward, but schools have already run into issues early in the academic year.

“We were hoping not to need increased rates this year but unfortunately we’re still having trouble finding substitute teachers,” said Superintendent Mike Nelson. “We’re getting to the point where we’re not able to maintain.”

The one-year temporary raise would increase daily rates for non-certified teachers from $80 to $120; for certified teachers it would increase from $85 to $150 (lower than the $165/day rate that was given last year); and for nurses from $120 to $200.

Hourly rates for custodial, cafeteria, and clerical staff were also adjusted, however, unlike the raise for substitute teachers, the hourly rate changes were made permanently and were tied to the Massachusetts minimum wage.

April Rios, a Joint School Committee member representing Marion, voiced her support for the measure, emphasizing the value of attracting qualified and enthusiastic teachers.

“It’s important to have someone who is not only qualified but really wants to be there,” she said.

Despite the increased costs, Nelson said that the schools would be capable of paying substitutes at the new rates under the current budget, without compromising spending on other priorities.

“We feel confident that we can maintain these rates without it affecting other areas,” he said.