Kelly® Education provides insights about competitive wages that improve consistency in staffing.
In 2013, the Charleston County School District in South Carolina first partnered with Kelly Education to cover teacher substitution assignments in its 78 schools. As the nation’s 100th largest school district, it serves 49,000 students.
That successful partnership was blossoming with fill rates in the 90th percentile. Then, COVID-19 hit and like many school districts across the United States, they experienced a sharp decline in their ability to maintain a workforce.
“By the fall of 2019, our substitute program was a well-oiled machine,” says Susan Watson-Bell, director of certified recruiting and staffing at the Charleston County School District (CCSD). “After COVID-19 hit, we had weekly calls throughout the summer with Kelly Education to help us think outside of the box about what we could do to increase our number of substitute educators.”
Not only did Kelly Education alleviate the additional pressure, but their support allowed the school system to generate competitive wage increases and to create a program where substitute teachers remain in the same buildings.
Raising wages to compete for jobs.
Together, Kelly Education and CCSD completed a market analysis to address the reduction in the number of substitute teachers during the pandemic. It was clear that pay rates and inflation were taking a toll. The district utilized ESSER funds to put temporary pay raises into effect. Daily pay for substitutes with high school diplomas rose from $80 to $130, and for those with bachelor’s degrees from $112 to $150. Certified substitute teachers were able to accept assignments of 10 days or more. It worked. Within 30 days, fill rates were above 90 percent and recruiting qualified talent was attainable.
“Being able to compete with retail jobs that offer $19 per hour was a huge game changer for us,” says Watson-Bell. “We saw a dramatic increase in interest and onboarding, and we are now aligned with pre- pandemic fill rates.” Currently, the district can call on a list of more than 1,000 active substitute teachers to cover 400 absences per day.
To address the most difficult days to fill, CCSD now provides an additional $25 for substitute teachers who work on a Monday or Friday. Approximately 350 substitute teachers have benefited from this program, which required some additional heavy lifting from Kelly Education. “It was a little tricky for the payroll team, but they worked internally to make it a smooth process for us,” says Watson-Bell.