Prior to COVID, a shortage of substitutes existed and the addition of quarantines and other health-related absences, shortages can be even more problematic and can threaten the ability of schools to offer in-person learning. Last week, the Senate passed SF 819 to address the shortage of substitute teachers for Minnesota schools through a pilot program for short-call substitute teachers.
“After the difficult year that students have had, they deserve to have good, capable local leaders teaching them in the classroom,” Senator Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) said Monday. “This bill gives individual school districts more authority to choose local talent as substitute teachers when the need arises, that can best suit the needs of their students. These are not ‘warm bodies’ like the Democrat Senators repeatedly said during the floor debate, but they are smart and talented residents of our communities who have a desire to positively impact the students’ lives. Retired teachers or other individuals in the district have knowledge that would benefit the children and they are ready to step up to offer their talents and help. The need is so great, especially in rural districts.”
Expanding the availability of short-call substitutes has been a demand from local school districts for years. A short-call substitute can fill in a classroom for up to 15 days. This legislation lifts some burdens of licensing requirements and returns control to the communities and allows them to make decisions about what’s best in their classrooms. School officials across the state advocated for this bill and helped to get it through the Senate.
SF 819 passed off the Senate Floor with support from each party – Republican, Democrat, and Independent.