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District Teams With Substitute Company to Support Staff

Sep 03, 2019

In an effort to raise substitute fill rates in the 2019-20 school year, the District is partnering with ESS Educational Staffing to help alleviate districtwide sub shortages.

The District joins neighboring districts that use the substitute staffing service including Aubrey, Celina, Denton and Melissa ISDs.

“In early August, ESS held its first orientation sessions,” said Pam Linton, chief human resources officer. “Over 700 substitutes completed the process to continue subbing in the District.” 

While District fill rates have increased over the past three years, there were over 8,500 unfilled substitute requests by teachers and aides last school year. 

“At a high school or middle school campus, when a substitute position goes unfilled it takes two to three teachers to cover just one class period,” said Karen LeCocq, managing director of secondary schools. “This can negatively impact a teacher’s collaborative team time that would otherwise be used to plan quality and engaging lessons for students.” 

“Hard-working staff across the District have been going above and beyond to reduce any impact on students,” said Christy Fiori, managing director of elementary schools. “With consistent sub shortages and staff helping colleagues, it is time we take the next step in supporting our dedicated teachers and teacher aides.”

As the number of teachers and aides in Frisco ISD grows year to year, so does the need for substitutes. The substitute request rate in Frisco ISD is on par with the rates of surrounding districts.

The District substitute pool would optimally be three times the rate of the highest request date of the previous school year.

Twenty-five percent of absences are related to school business, a designation reserved for professional development.

While the overall average fill rate was 86% in 2018-19, the District hopes to fill at least 95% of substitute requests with the help of the new partnership. The District also hopes to raise the fill rates for special education teachers and paraprofessionals.

Historically, there are higher fill rates at elementary schools and for teachers as opposed to teacher aides. Fill rates are also higher toward the beginning of the school year and taper as the year continues.

“As the year progresses, an additional obstacle is substitutes often get hired into full-time teaching positions mid-school year,” said Anna Koenig, human resources director. “It impacts all of the campuses and it is time to take additional steps to fill the gap.”

Prior to the partnership with ESS, the District enacted a number of measures including raising substitute pay rates and paying teachers to cover classes of their colleagues if a sub could not be placed. 

The District also contacted all substitutes by email and phone to update the substitute pool and provided new training opportunities to help substitutes prepare for the classroom.

While these actions increased fill rates, unfilled substitute positions continued.

The District surveyed pay rates and incentives of surrounding districts to learn more about what works for them and the District will maintain 2018-19 pay rates, which can be found here

After meeting with multiple substitute placement-assistance companies and a thorough vetting process by the Frisco ISD business office, the District chose ESS due to their commitment to quality instruction and collaboration.

The anticipated increase in fill rates plus staffing charges for ESS is expected to cost an additional $2.2 million more than the 2018-19 budget of $6.6 million for substitutes. 

ESS will have additional responsibilities besides recruitment, onboarding and paying substitutes weekly including:

An Onsite Team
Three ESS staff members, including two recruiters and an ESS district manager, are now housed at the Frisco ISD Administration Building.

Initial and Ongoing Professional Development
All ESS employees are offered professional development opportunities through the online portal that features various training modules as well as in-person training sessions. The training is developed and administered by a former superintendent of schools.

Insurance and Benefits
ESS offers an extensive menu of benefit offerings including health, dental, disability and life insurance options. Employees are also offered advancement opportunities and a 401k plan.

Incentive opportunities
ESS offers incentive opportunities including attendance bonuses, gift cards and raffles. Additional incentives will be added based on the need of the District.

Awards and Recognitions
ESS offers awards/recognition plans such as employee of the month/year, extra effort awards, impact awards and others.

Employee Referral Program
The employee referral program offers a $75 payment for each individual hired as a result of being referred to ESS by a current ESS employee.

“This partnership will benefit students, staff and the community as we seek to meet the needs of campuses across the District,” said Pam Linton, chief human resources officer.

In order to substitute for a teacher in Frisco ISD, one must be a certified teacher or hold a bachelor’s degree. Only certified Texas teachers may substitute in long-term or vacant teaching positions. Aides must have a high school diploma or equivalent. All substitutes must pass a background check, have positive references and complete required preliminary training.

Those interested in substituting can find requirements and general information here. Apply by visiting the ESS website.

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