Union R-XI School District

The Union R-XI School District is upping its pay for substitute teachers, at least temporarily.

Substitutes will now be paid $115 per day, up from the previous rate of $95 per day. The daily pay increases to $135 a day if the teacher is a Union R-XI retiree.

“Substitute teachers are hard to come by these days,” Dr. Justin Tarte, district executive director of human resources, said at the Wednesday, Nov. 18, board of education meeting. “Now, more than ever, we need as many good quality educators in our classrooms as possible.”

The district already has been seeing more people wanting to be substitutes since it started spreading the word that the pay increase could be coming, Tarte said.

“We conducted 16 interviews over the last couple of weeks, so there was definitely some fresh interest in individuals wanting to be a part of our team.”

At the same time, the district is fortunate to have experienced Union R-XI retirees living in the area, Tarte said.

“We are happy to have some of that experience and knowledge and expertise,” he said.

Sue Wilkinson, a retired Beaufort Elementary School teacher who has been a substitute the last eight years, discussed the importance of tapping into the knowledge of retired teachers.

“I think we need to encourage our own. In Union R-XI, our kids deserve to have the best come back, especially when things are interrupted,” Wilkinson said. “Every time a teacher is out, education is interrupted ... We just need to keep the flow going and provide the best education that we can for our kiddos, because they deserve it.”

For now, the pay increase is only through the end of the 2020-21 school year, Tarte said.

“We collectively all hope these unique times will balance themselves out and maybe get back to normal,” Tarte said. “We’re going to be able to revisit some of these numbers for the ’21-22 school year just to make sure that we’re not only competitive, but just to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to keep the best possible substitute teachers in our district.”

Before the board approved the agreement, there was some discussion over how much teachers who retired from other districts should be paid. The board determined it would be best to wait until after this school year to address the issue, though consensus seemed to be teachers from other districts should be paid somewhere in between the regular substitutes and Union R-XI retirees.

“We’d like this to be addressed immediately for the remainder of this school year, and be readdressed over the summer for the ’21-22 school year,” Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said. “Still, I feel that Union should be the most, then maybe a Pacific teacher, maybe here, then we go to this and this.”

With the coronavirus pandemic, many substitutes, particularly retired educators, have declined the job, citing the health risk, according to The Missourian archives. In response to the shortage, the Missouri Board of Education temporarily relaxed requirements to make it easier for people to qualify for substitute positions in public school districts.