MAYFLOWER, Ark – School districts across the country including in Arkansas are desperate for substitute teachers as shortages continue.
Mayflower Public Schools says this is the worst they’ve seen it in years.
“Before we had people asking if we needed substitutes,” said Mayflower High School teacher Heather Malone.
Malone says at least three or four times this year she has had to give up her free period to help cover a class.
“There’s no subs to come fill that spot,” said Malone.
Malone says covering for a class puts a burden on her as well as the teacher who was either sick or on vacation.
“I don’t want my friends, my coworkers to have to use their time to cover my class,” said Malone.
This year the school district says they have had to ask teachers and staff to fill in when teachers are needed. They say it’s gotten worse since the pandemic began.
Mayflower Public Schools superintendent Andy Chisum says they have about 80 substitutes on their list. The list however covers most of the surrounding districts.
“While there may be 80 people on that list, some of them may be in North Little Rock or Conway or Vilonia,” said Chisum.
Mayflower is a smaller school district. Chisum says that also plays a role in the shortage because when there are substitutes available, some may go to a district with higher pay grades.
“It’s not in the budget for us to pay more right now,” said Chisum.
The district says the main reason for their shortage is covid. Chisum says more are limiting contact with people and others are utilizing additional unemployment benefits offered during the pandemic.
“People are making more money at home than working,” said Chisum.
Until they can fill empty seats, teachers in Mayflower will occasionally have full class schedules.
Malone says although it is a burden, she’s happy to help.