Principals forced to fill-in as lack of substitute teachers grows

PEARLAND, Texas (KTRK) -- Pearland ISD is one of several Houston-area school districts looking to hire substitute teachers.

Eyewitness News spoke with substitute teacher Matthew Bounds on Wednesday, who is also a veteran. Bounds was substitute teaching at Alexander Middle School, but fills in at several campuses within the district. He said the need for substitute teachers continues to grow for in-person learning.

"In Pearland [ISD,] we're cleaning everything. The procedures are set," Bounds said. "The staff are really great. There's trainings that they do all the time even for their substitutes, above and beyond other districts will do. The staff just supports you."

According to a release issued by the district, the health and safety of the students and staff, including substitute teachers, continue to be a priority with protocols that include social distancing, daily self-screening prior to coming to school, required non-medical grade face coverings that cover the nose and mouth, and ongoing cleaning of surfaces during the day. The daily rate starts at $80.

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Dr. Sundie Dahlkamp, the director of human resources for Pearland ISD, said the district's fill-in rate was 95% last year, but it's dropped to about 75% this year due to the pandemic.

"When an absence goes unfilled, the impact on the campus can be huge," Dahlkamp said. "That means you can possibly be combining classes, you could be taking a support teacher from another area and putting them in a content class. We even have campuses where the principal themselves has sat in a classroom and covered a class for the day."

Meanwhile, Fort Bend ISD is also in need of substitute teachers. Due to the pandemic, some have been turning down job opportunities, according to Superintendent Charles Dupre.

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A spokesperson for FBISD said the district is hiring year-round. The district will be hosting a virtual hiring event on Friday, Nov 13. Anyone who is interested, people can register on the district's website.

Pearland ISD is also hiring year-round and conducting orientation for substitutes every week. Dahlkamp said the process could take a couple of days or up to a week.

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