Borough schools facing substitute shortage

NAUGATUCK — When a Naugatuck teacher is out this year, borough schools are left scrambling due to a shortage of substitutes.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini said the district currently has a pool of about 40 substitute teachers it can call. He said the pool of substitutes is usually much larger, though he didn’t have a specific number for previous years.

“Just because there are 40 substitutes, it doesn’t mean they are always available. Your pool has to be large because not everyone commits to every day,” Montini said.

The lack of substitutes has been a concern for the district for a couple of years, but this year is particularly bad, Montini said.

No classes have been canceled thus far due to the shortage, but Montini said officials have had to improvise on occasion when they couldn’t secure a substitute. Tutors, consultants and instructional coaches have been pulled to cover classes, he said.

“If we can’t find anyone to cover, we have had to split classes or doubled up a class,” Montini said.

Montini said the district is looking to attract people interested in becoming substitute teachers.

A candidate must have a bachelor’s degree to be a substitute teacher. Naugatuck pays $75 a day for substitutes, Montini said.

“We obviously prefer those that have educational degrees, but that is not a requirement,” Montini said.

Long-term substitutes, those who teach the same class for more than 40 days, are required to have a teaching certificate, Montini said.

The majority of substitutes are people who are looking for a job in education but haven’t found a full-time positon, Montini said, though some just want a part-time job or are retired teachers.

Montini said substituting allows potential teachers to get experience in a classroom and, if they are applying for positions in Naugatuck, gives the district a chance to get to know them.

Montini said the district is also looking to address the shortage by hiring a second building substitute — someone who is assigned to one specific school and comes in every day — for each school.

A building substitute is paid $100 a day. If the building substitute is not needed as a substitute on any given day, he or she helps out in the classrooms, Montini said.