Montgomery County Public Schools facing a substitute teacher shortage

ROCKVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) -- One of the top school districts in the country is one step closer to lowering the educational requirements applicants need to become a substitute teacher.

Montgomery County Public Schools says they're making the adjustment to address a substitute teacher shortage.

Currently, a Bachelors degree is required to substitute teach at Montgomery County Public Schools. That could all change to an Associates degree or 60 college credits.

The district says the change would increase the number of available substitutes, provide a more diverse range of candidates and encourage more individuals to become teachers.

One parent FOX 5 spoke with says More qualifications are needed, not less.

"I hear some of the substitutes that come in are frankly, sometimes, unqualified and some of the people are on their phones and not really paying attention, so it would be good to have more qualified people step up... I'm not sure why they're no stepping up and what the county needs to do, I'm not quite sure," said Paul Graham.

The district says broadening the requirements would also decrease unfilled vacancies and limit the need for in-school class coverage, which could include administrators teaching classes.

We're told 12 percent of substitute teacher requests go unfilled each day.

Board members flushed out the details at MCPS headquarters Thursday afternoon. If approved, the plan could go into effect in time for next school year. But how did the top school district get to this point?

"We got here because we have a lot more kids within Montgomery County -- we have 164,000 and we're up to 207 schools -- so, of course, when you have more kids, we have more teachers and sometimes, life gets in the way, children get sick, different things happen and we do have teachers that are out," said Assistant Superintendent Lance Dempsey, Montgomery County Public Schools.

We're also told the biggest challenge is filling substitute teaching vacancies at schools in low-income areas. There's also reportedly a growing realization of the challenges and difficulty associated with teaching.