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.