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Salem schools widen net to fill substitute teacher ranks

SALEM — The Salem city school board made another move to attract substitute teachers to the district, approving modified education requirements as a temporary measure while dealing with the pandemic.

The resolution approved by the board Monday night states that substitute teachers don’t have to hold a post-secondary degree, which normally they would, in order to substitute teach this school year.

They must be of good moral character, must have completed all required criminal background checks and obtain a valid non-renewable temporary substitute teaching license issued by the Ohio Department of Education.

Superintendent Sean Kirkland said substitutes will still need to have some comparable experience.

In the fall, the state legislature passed emergency legislation that gave school districts the ability to establish their own education requirements for substitute teachers during the 2021-2022 school year due, recognizing the difficulties in finding substitutes due to COVID-19.

Last month, the school district also increased the pay for substitute teachers to $120 per day. Master substitute teachers will receive $140 per day. A master substitute has to have worked 25 days or more the previous school year or be a retired Salem school teacher who worked 15 days or more the previous school year.

Kirkland demonstrated the need for substitutes while updating the board on COVID-19 numbers, noting that on Monday, 24 teachers in the district were out sick. He said not all absences this time of year are from COVID either, there are other illnesses. That’s out of 135 teachers in the district. To cover for the 24 teachers out, only 14 substitutes were available, meaning other teachers and staff members had to help out.

“Our teachers and staff are doing a nice job of being flexible,” he said. “We haven’t had to shut down.”

He said the district had 105 students in quarantine. He also shared some of the current numbers for active positive COVID-19 cases for both students and staff, which are constantly changing, saying that hopefully they’ll start to see the absences go down. Besides the teachers, he also pointed out how the cafeteria staff members have been able to cover for each other and keep the kids fed.

In other matters in his report, Kirkland touched on two pending proposals. One was the safe travel plan that he’s working on with the city government, the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center and Ohio Department of Transportation. Funding will be sought through a grant to establish safe routes to school for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. The money can be used for flashing signs and other measures to make the trip to school safer.

The other proposal is an idea to establish a medical clinic within the district at the high school building, staffed by a nurse practitioner on site who can prescribe medications if warranted with approval of parents. The clinic could be used by staff members, too, used for drug screenings and even school physicals for athletes. The initiative is still in the planning stages.

Kirkland also gave some mid-season praise to the Lady Quakers varsity girls basketball team sporting a 12-1 record. As part of the consent agenda, the board accepted with regret but sincere appreciation the upcoming retirement of teacher Jeanette DeShields after 24 years at the end of the school year. Kirkland said she’ll be missed.

The board also reorganized for the new year, selecting Brittany Maniscalco as president again and Dianna Barley as vice president. Board member Dr. Joe Shivers served as president pro tem for the organizational meeting.

The board will continue to meet at 7 p.m. the third Monday of each month, with the exception of this month, February, June and December. The meeting dates for the rest of the year are Feb. 28, March 21, April 18, May 16, June 27, July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 21 and Dec. 12.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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