Houston County 7th through 12th grade teachers may soon be in line for a $1,000 bonus during each semester to cover classes over their planning periods as officials foresee a shortage of substitutes in the upcoming school year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, a presentation outlined the proposal where teachers will be paid the bonus if they volunteer to be auxiliary teachers for a little over an hour on days they are asked.
“It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s at least going to be a plan to cover most of those classes,” said Brandy White, who is the Webb Elementary assistant principal and superintendent-elect.
School officials are concerned that more substitutes will be needed as teachers take time off with COVID-related sick leave, and fewer substitutes will be available from its contracted staffing agency, Kelly Services, due to the worries of contracting the virus. Substitutes may also be in higher demand at other school systems that use the Kelly Services, like Dothan City Schools.
White said having teachers to cover classes will help avoid situations where students may be lumped together in a single classroom or gymnasium. He said he would work to ensure that there are enough Kelly Services substitutes to cover classes in the lower level grades.
White said there is no equitable way to divvy up the schedule among volunteers, since more teachers take planning periods later in the day.
The proposal is still being drafted, but White said a stipulation will be included requiring teachers to substitute for classes as requested by the principal and they may not receive the bonus if they decline more than one time.
He also proposed a financial incentive for teachers who have perfect attendance for an entire nine weeks.
Board members seemed in favor of the idea, and White said he would have an official proposal ready for a vote by the August board meeting.
In other business, the board approved a bid to purchase 28 computers from Clearwinds Technologies for the Houston County Career Academy for $23,010.
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