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Substitute Teacher Salaries More Than Double Since COVID

Before the COVID era, a substitute teacher in the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) earned about $112 a day. In 2021, teacher shortages more than doubled the pay for subs to $250 a day. Last month, the CVUSD school board approved a new substitute teacher salary schedule for 2024, where subs can earn up to $277 per day, an increase of 147 percent since 2019.

A November 2021 New York Times article titled “Substitute Teachers Never Got Much Respect, but Now They Are in Demand” about the sudden subbing boom, said, “Because of staff shortages, some school districts are canceling classes. Others are lowering their hiring standards. The result can be a chaotic classroom.”

Dramatic numbers of retirements have driven up the demand for substitute teachers — and driven up their pay.

During 2020, the height of COVID and classroom shutdowns, there were 7 percent fewer teachers and staff working in CVUSD. In 2015, the last peak in hiring, there were 3,755 active teachers and staff. By 2022, that had dropped by 10 percent. Some of those teachers moved to other districts, states or professions. Most departing teachers seem to have retired. As the Guardian previously reported, “The district [CVUSD] has become almost unrecognizable to many veteran teachers and staff members in the past year due to the district’s obsession with sexualizing children.”

Dramatic numbers of retirements have driven up the demand for substitute teachers — and driven up their pay. From 2011 to 2019, the average annual increase in the number of retirees from CVUSD was 1.99 percent. But during 2020, that figure jumped to 4.56 percent, according to CalSTRS (California State Teachers Retirement System) data. The following year, 2021, retirements from CVUSD increased 3.05 percent.

Salary data provided by CVUSD to TransparentCalifornia.com shows the average annual pay for a substitute teacher in 2019 was just $5,168, consistent with the previous five years. However, in 2022, the average substitute’s salary was $12,691.

Diana Lambert with EdSource, an education news organization, explains that “A day-to-day substitute is a contracted worker with no guarantee of daily work. Conversely, substitutes are not required to accept every assignment for which they are called.”

So subs can be choosy, further driving up demand and pay.

Qualifications for becoming a new substitute teacher have been eased.

“To encourage people to substitute teach,” Lambert wrote, “some districts began campaigns encouraging parents to take the jobs. Many also increased the daily pay rate for substitutes.”

Retirees, often a natural fit for subbing, were allowed to return as substitute teachers before the required 180-day separation without affecting their pension, thanks to an executive order (N-12-21) signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in late 2021. (The average CVUSD retiree pension in 2022 was $82,125.)

The qualifications for becoming a new substitute teacher have been eased as well. Last fall, Newsom signed Senate Bill 1937, directing the Commission on Teacher Credentialing “to waive the basic skills proficiency requirement” for subs through at least July 1, 2024.

Jim Stewart Allen is a roving teacher in Washington state. He travels much the same way nurses move from hospital to hospital for months at a time. He told CBS News in October that professionalizing the substitute teacher role, which includes benefits and a higher salary, would make the subbing gig worth taking an assignment with a longer commute away from home. “I’m a teacher. I deserve to be paid what a teacher makes,” he said.

Job openings advertised by CVUSD at press time can be viewed below.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Retirements along with an exodus of new teachers has placed extreme stress on the system.

    The teachimg profession is at a crossroads, and success has more to do with working conditions than anything else, including pay. Teachers are under an inordinate amount of stress due to societal changes that have impacted the classroom, mostly negatively.

    Let teachers teach. Abolish the extraneous distractions that occupy their time and in many cases go against their values.

    As for the substitute teachers, maybe its time to hire full time substitute teachers at the same $45K per year salary ($250/day X 180 Days) with benefits. That would be a good faith committment to both students and staff.

  2. Please ensure that your information is accurate before publishing articles of this nature. The current CVUSD substitute positions that pay over $200 are for long-term substitutes, meaning they are in the same classroom for 30 or more days. This typically occurs when a teacher is on maternity leave or in a similar situation. The daily pay for day-to-day substitutes in our district TEMPORARILY increased to $200+ during the peak of the Covid pandemic. Currently, it stands at $166 per day, after two pay raises since last year. The first raise was from $158 to $163 a few months ago, followed by another increase from $163 to $166 a couple of weeks ago. This equates to approximately $20 per hour, which is comparable to the wage of a fast food worker. It’s important to note that some districts in California are paying as much as $350 per day for day-to-day substitutes, but this is not the case in CVUSD. The average daily pay for substitutes in California seems to be around $225. In comparison, CVUSD is one of the lowest-paying districts for substitute teachers in the state. The increase you observed on Transparent California occurred during the height of the Covid pandemic when there was an extreme shortage of substitutes, prompting the district to temporarily raise pay. Before publishing any claims, it would be wise to fact-check and verify the information. It is worth noting that the average daily wage for teachers in California is $500, which is a matter of concern rather than the compensation provided to substitutes, which is barely above minimum wage.

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