New legislation houses permanent substitute teachers in Delaware high needs schools

DELAWARE – Governor John Carney’s signature will provide more workforce support for school districts across the first state.

House Bill 315 is now law, establishing $2 million in grant funding to house permanent substitute teachers at high needs schools.

After seeing many leave the field due to retirement or burnout caused by the pandemic, we’re told this was a push to bolster the education workforce.

The Delaware State Education Association tells us this is not a one quick fix but rather one of many tools to meet the operational needs for many districts. “First and foremost we have to listen to our educators needs. Number one on their lists is workload and time,” Delaware State Education Association’s Kristin Dwyer said.

“And when you don’t have coverage and you have leave after leave, that contributes to burnout because they can never have portions taken off their plate.”

The legislation also changes how substitute teachers will be paid, going from a pier diem system to an actual salary scale.

DSEA tells us this not only meets coverage needs but addresses the current teacher shortage in Delaware.

The bill requires professionals to have a bachelors degree and they’ll actually get credit towards their student teaching while serving in this role. “Substitute teaching sometimes is a job that a lot of people fall into because of need. A lot of those folks are highly qualified professionals and just find themselves in between careers,” Dwyer said.

“So we maintain the standards for becoming a highly qualified teacher but we are giving credit for the time these permanent subs have spent in the classroom.”

Professionals must also complete all required coursework for certifications and licensing.

DSEA also tells 47ABC, the next focus should be looking into raising the starting salary for teachers to better compete with sister states like Maryland who are already working on raising educators base salary to $60,000 by 2026.

This legislation also provide substitute teachers access to health benefits just as other full-time employees.

The bill will go into effect for Fiscal Year 2023.


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