MONTROSE, N.Y. When regular teachers are absent, Hendrick Hudson High School students have been spending more free periods in the cafeteria or library without instruction, because of the school's difficulty finding substitute teachers.
"The district has difficulty in finding subs for all classes that need to be covered. Substitute teaching is not a lucrative profession, especially when we find out late that a teacher's going to be absent, it's all but impossible to cover that class," said Brian Monahan, interim superintendent.
"One would hope that they work on material for that class or another class, there's no doubt that often they will socialize," said Monahan.
Monahan said the Hendrick Hudson Board of Education's decision to reduce substitute teacher pay by 10 percent last year , from $80 per day to $72 per day didn't make it easier to fill daily vacancies. The district saved about $40,000 by reducing the pay, or 0.056 percent of the $70.6 million annual operating budget .
Hen Hud now has the lowest substitute teacher pay rate in Westchester County according to its records, and neighboring Lakeland and Peekskill School Districts pay substitute teachers a base rate of $100 per day.
The only initial daily pay rate lower than Hendrick Hudson's is Rye Neck, which pays uncertified substitute teachers $60 and $100 initial daily pay rates to both bachelor and master degree certified teachers. All substitute teachers are paid $72 at Hendrick Hudson School District, regardless of certification.
"It's certainly had an impact," said Monahan about the pay rate. "But you know, a slightly higher rate of pay would help somewhat but it certainly wouldn't solve the problem," he said.
Monahan said the district has heard an increasing number of concerns from parents and that the district has spoken to the service that provides substitute coverage.
"We've spoken to the service that provides our substitutes to see if they can provide the ratio of vacancies that are filled and we're looking at whether there are frankly other options in terms of having the students do something that's meaningful," he said.