Skip to content
    K-12 Education

    Keeping Florida schools staffed with substitute teachers—fill rates jump by 30 percentage points.

    Teacher in front of classroom

    The School District of Osceola County (SDOC) educates more than 69,000 students in 60 schools—26 elementary, nine middle, ten high schools, five multi-level and three virtual schools in the heart of Central Florida.  

     With more than 4,000 full-time faculty teachers, the district had always hired its own substitute teachers to cover absences for illnesses, professional development, and long-term leave. However, the need was great with around 170 vacancies to be filled each week. Despite using absence management software, this was an insurmountable task for the small department that was also recruiting, hiring, and handling last-minute scheduling. Average fill-rates using the 700-person substitute pool stood at just 49% during the 2021-2022 school year.   

    Teachers and administrators were regularly pulled in to cover daily absences contributing to burnout and attrition. Administrators started to look for another solution but were nervous about outsourcing. After seeing positive results at two neighboring Florida districts, Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace suggested bringing in Kelly Education. She noted that schools often outsource nutrition services and purchase third party curriculum enabling them to benefit from the expertise of experienced professionals in these fields. Given the national teacher vacancy crisis and its impact on Florida, it was time to look at staffing experts. 

     A paradigm shift. 

    “The transition to Kelly Education® was paradigm shift,” says Tammy Cope-Otterson, OCSD chief human resources officer. ”Their team went to work immediately over a summer, with most of the heavy lifting happening in just four weeks. The difference was incredible. Within one semester we saw fill-rates in the upper 70th percentile and even had a few days in the 90th percentile.” 

    The numbers kept improving. A stickler for data-driven decision making, Cope-Otterson, watches fill rates daily—the “holy grail” statistic of performance. In May 2023, she pulled a single day metric and compared it to the same period in 2022 when the district was staffing substitute positions. The Kelly Education team filled 115% more assignments with a 95.5% fill rate compared to the prior year fill rate of 52.67%. All this as the district’s teacher absentee count rose significantly from 21,000 to 41,500 in a single year. 

     The district is also impressed with the quality of the Kelly Education substitute teachers. Before starting, each substitute must pass a substitute teacher-specific training curriculum. Roughly 60% also hold a post-secondary degree. 


    The district had an inadequate substitute teacher pool to cover daily absences.


    District hired our partnership team to recruit, onboard, transition, train, and schedule substitute educators.


    Fill rates increased by 30 percentage points in one year. District expanded the program to include more roles.

    A dedicated team for recruiting and hiring. 

    While district administrators credit Kelly Education for its dedicated expertise in recruiting a large, local talent pool of qualified substitute teachers, they also commend Kelly for understanding the dynamics of a school community. The company quickly transitioned a majority (398) of its existing substitute staff—providing consistency to faculty and students. The transitioned employees were offered benefits and perks that the district could not provide.     

    “Kelly Education has top-notch interviewers and on-boarders who move a large number of candidates methodically through the process,” said Cope-Otterson. At one point, Kelly Education had 700 candidates in process—including background screening, credentialing, and training. “They only selected the best after vetting 2,100 candidates,” she said. The substitute teacher pool grew from 640 to 1300.  

    “We have a dedicated onsite account manager who makes sure that we’re able to fill classrooms at the last minute,” said Cope-Otterson. The manager oversees the entire Kelly Education team which includes recruiters, an on-boarder, and a talent care advisor who answers the substitute teachers' questions and recommends professional development when wanted or needed. “This is one of those unquantifiable benefits that reduces stress for us each day,” she remarked. 

    Expansion beyond substitute teachers. 

    The partnership between the Osceola School District and Kelly Education has led to a new contract for the next school year. The district also now uses the staffing provider to fill not only substitute educator roles, but also paraprofessionals, custodians, and short- and long-term support for their Exceptional Student Education (ESE) needs. 


    The difference was incredible. Within one semester, we saw fill-rates in the upper 70th percentile and even had a few days in the 90th percentile.”

    -  Tammy Cope-Otterson, OCSD Chief Human Resources Officer

    You need the best and brightest.

    We can help solve your most complex talent challenges – both today and in the future – by delivering high–quality talent that moves education forward.

    Contact us at 800.Kelly.01 and one of our agents will administer your request. Or, if you'd prefer, fill out the form to submit an email.

    Let's Talk!