On Thursday, Bethel Park had 32 replacements ready to cover classrooms for 44 instructors who were absent for the day. 12 classrooms with about 4,000 kids in the district had to be filled by whoever was available.
When Bethel Park does not have enough substitute instructors, other teachers must sacrifice prep time, principals conduct math or English classes, and school counselors visit the classroom to ensure that pupils learn something that day.
Some days, Bethel Park is fortunate enough to be able to cover every teacher’s absence with a substitute teacher. On other days, Bethel Park is a juggling act.
In addition to a lack of substitute instructors, Bethel Park is down eight bus drivers, which means that many bus trips must be combined to transport kids between and to school.
“It’s not what we’re used to. “We’re used to having a lot of people wanting to work in schools.” Superintendent Mr. Walsh explained
Part-time teaching aides and education personnel are even more difficult to hire, so the district is now asking people currently in such roles to work a little longer to cover gaps.
Substitute teachers, support staff, food service workers, and custodians are in limited supply in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Pennsylvania granted over 15,000 new in-state teaching credentials ten years ago. According to the most recent Pennsylvania Department of Education figures, that number has dropped to slightly over 5,000 for the 2020-21 school year.
In July, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a 20-page package outlining “focus areas” such as satisfying staff needs in schools, ensuring educators and staff came from varied backgrounds, and ensuring instructors were equipped in the classroom once qualified.
To look into the report, click here.