Trib: NA refuses to release substitute costs; Loses on appeal

Posted: January 2, 2013 in Costs, Press Coverage
Tags: , ,

Seventy-three Western Pennsylvania public school districts paid nearly $25 million for substitute teachers to cover classes when full-time educators were not in the classroom during the last school year, according to records for 17,000 teachers reviewed by the Tribune-Review.

Seven districts — Chartiers Valley, Derry Area, East Allegheny, Kiski, New Kensington-Arnold, North Allegheny and Uniontown — refused to release the records, but the Trib appealed to the state Office of Open Records and won, forcing them to relinquish the information.

North Allegheny School District
Number of teachers: 626
Money spent on substitute teachers: *
Percentage of local taxes to cover substitute teacher expenses: *
Percentage of time teachers are out of the classroom: 5.33 percent

*Does not include cost of substitutes. North Allegheny officials denied this record, and the Trib appealed the denial with the state Office of Open Records and won. The district had an additional 30 days after the Dec. 3 decision and records had not been received by press time.
  1. Jen Husek says:

    I’ve often wondered and hoped that our district is able to recoup the substitute costs associated with special needs care. In these cases, by law, teachers must attend IEPs and trainings for their students, and often it is during class time requiring the need for a substitute. Families of children who are on Medical Assistance can grant permission to the districts to recover at least part of these costs, (and other administrative costs). I would be interested to know the efficiency of this process, both at the District and State levels. It is an important component in supporting special needs children, while lessening the impact on NA’s budget. At this point, I’d rather know that it is working than hope that it is.

    I also believe that a day prior to the start of the school year devoted to transitioning special needs children into their new classrooms would go a long way toward keeping teachers teaching once the year starts, rather than discussing plans in September mid-day meetings. Good planning will avoid problems which create greater time and money demands down the road.

  2. Karyn Winter says:

    I can believe that the amount of waste on subs is extremely high. Teachers are not in the class room that much anymore. Commitee meetings etc. should not be scheduled during class time only before or after school or on in service days. The elementary school my kids go to always have subs in the classrooms and I have questioned it before.

  3. Margie Craska says:

    While the data in the article is staggering, I truly hope we can remain focused on the overriding and paramount issue: the NA administration’s lack of transparency and cooperation. That said, certainly the substitute teacher budget should be examined thoroughly. Reducing the daily substitute pay by a just small amount, given the large scope of sub use, could lead to significant cost savings.

  4. Shannon Belcher says:

    I’ve heard that instead of hiring full time teachers, NA is replacing teachers who have transferred or retired with long term substitutes. This seems shady and unfair to the teachers, and a possible reason they are reluctant to release their numbers. What is going on with our school?

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