Substitute teachers can stay longer in one assignment under amended law
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 12:33 PM
Substitute teachers can stay in the same classroom assignment longer under a newly amended law, providing increased flexibility for school districts and more continuity for students, area school administrators say.
The most recent changes took effect Nov 1.
The law now allows substitutes to stay in a position up to 90 days, from the previous 70, said Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, who is author of the legislation.
Inman said the idea behind the cap was that you didn't want a principal, instead of hiring a certified teacher, coming in ''and just leaving a substitute in all year long.''
Expanding the cap allows for consistency in instruction when unforeseen events or family medical leave requires a teacher to be out of the classroom for an extended period of time, said Kathy Dodd, associate superintendent for teaching and learning at Union Public Schools.
"By allowing one substitute to remain for the duration of the teacher's absence, higher levels of learning, classroom management, and relationship-building are achieved," she said. "It makes the entire experience less disruptive for the teacher, the students and the parents."
As an example, Inman said, suppose a substitute for a third-grade class has reached the end of time allowed in that position. But the deadline is just days before state testing is set to begin.
"All of a sudden, that substitute has to go because of the deadline, and they plug in another teacher who has no idea, who hasn't been there, and the students lose that continuity," he said.
"In that instance, it would've benefited the principal to say, 'No, let's keep you on an extra three to four days or 10 days to get through testing," Inman said. "And this just offers them more flexibility to do that."
The expanded limit also is expected to help districts with hard-to-fill positions, which usually require additional recruitment time, administrators said.
Legislators also raised the limit for noncertified substitute teachers to 90 days, up from just 20, before districts must bring in a replacement substitute.
Ed Fager, chief of human resources for Broken Arrow Public Schools, said that specific change provides relief when hiring new teachers at the beginning of each school year.
New teachers come up against a backlog of certification processing at the Oklahoma State Department of Education due to the influx of new certifications statewide.
"We would usually ask a new teacher at 15 days - if they haven't received their certification - to drive to Oklahoma City and walk their paperwork through," Fager said.
Now districts can wait longer for the certification to be completed, minus the upheaval that occurs when a teacher must spend a day in Oklahoma City, he said.
Inman said that is a happy side effect of the amended statute.
"I'll be honest with you. That is sort of an ancillary benefit because that wasn't my primary goal," he said. "My primary goal was to get those principals, who wouldn't have got teachers in midyear, substitute teachers. It just so happens to work in that it also offers that benefit."
Original Print Headline: Continuity in the classroom
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
Substitute teacher Linda Nagy teaches kindergartners in music class at Arrowhead Elementary in Broken Arrow. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Kindergartners Mike Hensley (left), Jacob Jefferson, Addyson Jones and Emma Harrison take part in music class with a substitute teacher at Broken Arrow's Arrowhead Elementary School last week. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Substitute teacher Linda Nagy leads a kindergarten music class at Arrowhead Elementary in Broken Arrow. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World