By Jeff Gallatin
School officials are considering calling in some outside assistance – including an automated system - in getting substitute teachers for the district.
Superintendent Clint Keener gave a presentation on the Aesop automated program to the school board at its April 8 meeting. School board members delayed action on making changes in how the district deals with substitute teachers after several members raised questions about Rachel Wixey and Associates, the Toledo educational firm, which Keener said could take over the administrative responsibility for handling district substitutes from school workers.
Board members Michael Caputo, Amy Huntley and Bill Selong asked a variety of questions pertaining to how Wixey would handle administrative tasks if it ended up taking over the work from Bay workers. They asked Keener to get additional information from the firm as to actual costs of it doing the work, so they could review the information and see if they believe it is cost effective for the district to turn over the work. They also wanted to make sure any switch would not entail any Bay school workers losing their job and see how insurance for the teachers plays a role in the process.
Keener said Wixey uses Aesop, meaning the switch could be made to the automated system. He said he would obtain additional information sought by the board. He said no current Bay members would lose their jobs as a result of the proposed switch.
Referring to the Aesop system, he noted regular teachers can call or sign onto the system network to notify school districts that they will be absent. The Aesop system then begins the automated process of seeking a replacement or substitute who meets specific qualification criteria for the regular teacher’s position. The system also notifies the affected school district about the absent teacher and who the substitute will be.
“It runs pretty smoothly from what we can see,” Keener said. “We’re going to provide the Aesop program with our list of approved substitutes, and they will be able to access that when they’re finding the appropriate substitute for the district.”
Keener said the system also benefits substitute teachers.
“They don’t have to call in for this, and for days that are scheduled in advance, they can sign up early for them and know that’s where they’re going,” he said.
Keener said the move should make it easier for the district and the teachers to be able to handle absences.
“We have about 1,500 teaching days a year where we need to have a substitute,” he said. “Having a system which makes it easier for all involved to get it taken care of is a good benefit.”
Keener said not all absences are due to sickness.
“There also are some professional days for teachers where we need to have a substitute in the classroom,” he said. “Having a system which can quickly access the criteria for a specific education system can save a lot of potential calling by the district.”
Keener said because the Aesop system is utilized by other Northern Ohio districts in a group format, its costs go down. He said initial figures for Wixey are that it would cost the system will cost the district about $16,000 to $19,000 annually, but said he would try and get more specific information to answer the board’s questions.
“It’s a cost-efficient way of dealing with the absences,” he said.
He said the district plans to have the new system in place for the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
“We have to get set up for it,” he said. “It will be ready for the fall.”