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    K-12 Education

    Baltimore County Schools improve substitute teacher fill rates while reducing staffing headaches.

    K-12-Instruct_ Baltimore Case Study

    Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is the 22nd largest public school system in the United States serving more than 110,000 students in 176 schools and programs. The district employs more than 9,450 teachers and encompasses a community of urban, suburban, and rural populations.

    With the national educator shortage and pandemic-related attrition, covering teacher absences became a strain on the district. By the 2021-22 school year, fill rates for substitute teachers averaged 57%. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining substitute teachers  to meet growing demand created administrative burdens for human resources, principals, central office payroll, and operations staff.

    “The volume of substitute talent needed coupled with turnover was becoming more than we could efficiently handle,” said Laura Lough, the supervisor of temporary services for Baltimore County Public Schools. "Costs were rising as we were paying teachers OT to cover classrooms during prep periods." 

    New staffing provider engaged qualified and reliable talent. 

    After several strategic meetings and consultation with Kelly Education and various district stakeholders, the school board approved the staffing partnership and contract in June 2022. 

    That summer, the Kelly® Education team of recruiters, onboarders, compliance and payroll specialists all worked to transition existing substitute teachers and recruit, onboard, and train a more diverse and dynamic pool. As a result, 730 substitute educators were ready to start the year. The team added 370 more during the next month and fill-rates steadily grew—often reaching 80%. By the end of the school year, the talent pool included 1,970 qualified and reliable employees. 

    Kelly Education deployed digital and grassroots recruiting strategies that engaged both active and passive applicants who were motivated to do meaningful work in schools within the Baltimore community.  

    “The partnership has exceeded many expectations, especially in quickly implementing recruitment and onboarding processes that are more targeted and timelier,” said Lough. She credits Kelly Education for also streamlining credentialing, background checks, and mandatory training to upskill talent before they ever enter the classroom. 

    The company also provides perks and benefits that the district couldn’t offer—which has led to higher retention rates for the district.


    Nearly half of teacher absences were going uncovered due to a lower volume substitute talent pool managed in-house.


    Hire a dedicated partnership team to recruit, onboard, transition, schedule, and manage substitute talent to meet BCPS's demand.


    Substitute teacher fill rates increased by 25% in one year relieving administrative burden and reducing teacher burn out.

    Reduced daily burden of managing the program. 

    It’s not easy to hand over the reins of this important workforce segment, however after the first year, BCPS found the partnership actually gave it more control. Administrators are no longer starting each day fighting an uphill staffing battle—they are able to strategically focus on the bigger picture of education. 

    "The communication is always timely. They treat us like they work for BCPS, " said Lough. "We've never felt as though we were just another account to manage."

    The Kelly Education team works to fill  last minute absences hours before the school day starts. In fact, the team filled 133,000 assignments during the 2022-23 school year—that’s 34,500 more than the previous year. The success is even more significant as there were 8,400 more vacancies year-over-year. Kelly also covered nearly 1,000 long term substitute teacher positions at an 87% fill rate. 

    The dedicated Kelly Education team also supports BCPS with the following:

    • Timely and consistent messaging to all substitutes. 
    • Addressing concerns quickly and efficiently—payroll, onboarding, scheduling  daily job assignments, and incident reporting. 
    • Targeted recruitment efforts that are driven by reliable and robust data to meet the needs of individual schools. 

    Lough says that the district was cautious in choosing an outsourcing partner but it's paying off.  “I fully value the collaboration and results we are seeing since implementing this strategic business partnership,” she said. Moving into the second year of the contract, the partnership continues to look for innovative ways to address the evolving diverse needs of students within the community.

    Having thoughtful partners to listen, share experience, and work to move our program forward has been the linchpin to our current success and the driving force that keeps us moving our program to the next level."

    -  Laura Lough, Supervisor of Temporary Services for Baltimore County Public Schools

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