DeLand, FL - During their regularly scheduled meeting last Tuesday, the Volusia County School Board (VCSB) approved an increase in pay for substitute teachers. They also approved a school-based substitute for each school with a 4-1 vote. Carl Persis was the lone dissenting vote.
Volusia United Educators (VUE) President Elizabeth Albert said there are better uses for the money, like filling current vacancies. Creating the 70 dedicated substitute teacher positions and giving them more than a four-dollar an hour raise will cost about $800.000. "Creating positions that are benefits-eligible employees and prioritizing that work, doesn't do anything to address the real problem which is the fact that we don't have certified teachers and paraprofessionals in our classrooms."
Albert said the pay increase was approved to attract more people. The issue is that nothing beats a certified teacher in the classroom and approving raises for substitutes is "education on the cheap. "For the day-to-day teaching and learning that needs to be accomplished to fill the gaps that our students have from the last few years dealing with COVID, we need certified instructional personnel in those classrooms."
There are other issues with VCSB's actions because they violate the collective bargaining agreement. According to Albert, the current agreement establishes the role of the classroom teacher. She said that bringing on anyone in a permanent status that is not a certified teacher is a violation. Prior to last Tuesday's meeting, VUE sent a cease and desist letter, advising them that if they moved forward, formal action would be pursued.
VUE is working with the Florida Education Association (FEA) to take formal action against what VCSB has done. Albert said she thinks the children deserve the best. Although substitutes are necessary to cover absences, she said there are too many vacancies for certified teachers to be filled.
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