By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
A contract addendum increasing the daily pay and bill rate for substitutes in six hard-to-fill schools — LaVergne high and middle, LaVergne Lake, Roy Waldon, Smyrna Middle and Cedar Grove — was approved by the Rutherford County School Board Thursday.
The $10 per day increase is immediately effective and will continue through the 2021–2022 school year.
Pay for subs with a high school diploma will increase from $85 to $95 per day, while those with a college degree will increase from $95 to $105 per day.
The goal is to increase the current fill rate of substitute teachers in the noted schools.
“In August, our average fill rate was running about 60 to 62 percent,” said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Andrea Anthony. “We identified the top 10 percent of schools that fell below that rate and continuously have challenges filling their sub openings.”
During the peak months of the pandemic, Advantage XP — a company contracted to manage the hiring of substitutes for Rutherford County Schools — was tasked with filling an average of 300–400 positions each day.
Recently the average has dropped to between 250–350.
However, due in part to their proximity with Metro Nashville School District, the six schools identified as hard to fill have continued to struggle when it comes to filling available positions.
The hardest days have been Mondays and Fridays, according to Anthony, who said some of the openings are unavoidable when teachers, administrators and staff attend conferences and other professional development opportunities.
“It’s taken a lot of creativity in making sure professional development opportunities are not on Mondays and Fridays,” Anthony said, “which tend to be harder days. … It’s challenging.”
In looking ahead to the 2022–2023 school year, human resources will begin accepting substitute contractor bids in January.
A consideration will be made to hiring one contractor to handle school openings in Murfreesboro and Eagleville and a second contractor to focus on Smyrna and LaVergne.
“It works for us when it comes to the lawn services and other areas where we contract out work,” Anthony said, “and we feel like this is comparable. … It’s a challenge no matter which company you outsource with.”