Teton School District 401 is trying to entice new substitutes and retain the ones it has by offering bonuses through December.

Teton School District 401 announced on Wednesday that it would be offering bonuses to entice more substitute teachers to work now through December.

Idaho Education News reported last month that substitute shortages due to sickness, quarantine, and lack of new applicants are just one of the many challenges facing school districts this year.

In September, Gov. Brad Little put $10 million toward new “Substitute Teacher Recruitment Grants” to help districts recruit and retain substitute teachers and other classroom support staff.

“My priority throughout the pandemic has been to ensure in-person instruction for our students and minimize disruptions to learning as much as possible. The availability of substitute teachers to step in when needed is critical to ensuring our students have the best chance at success,” the governor said in his announcement.

TSD 401 received $30,000 of that to put toward new incentives: substitutes will receive a $25 per day bonus for each day worked, and an additional $100 bonus for working five or more days per pay period.

Recruiting and retaining substitutes has been a challenge for TSD 401 even pre-pandemic. In 2017, Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme told the Teton Valley News that when the economy is doing well, it pulls potential substitutes out of rotation because full time work is more steady. The district is also competing with Teton County School District 1 in Jackson, which has historically paid better for the same positions.

According to the most current salary schedule posted on the website, TSD 401 pays subs with a high school diploma $69 per day. If a sub has a bachelor’s degree, the pay is $86 per day. Jackson pays certified subs $160 per day and non-certified subs $16 per hour.

In September, TSD 401 needed an average of 25 substitutes per day. The fill rate was around 70 percent, meaning the schools were short nearly eight subs on any given day. 

“With the incentive provided by this grant, we hope more members of our community will consider applying to become a substitute,” said outgoing district CFO Blake Snedaker last week. “This is also a way to show appreciation for our current substitutes that, like all of our staff, have been dedicated and working hard to support the students in the valley.”

Demand is also high for classified employees such as bus drivers, custodians, cooks, maintenance staff, and paraprofessionals. Anyone who is interested can apply by going to tsd401.org/employment.