BETHESDA, Md. - This month alone, three different school districts – Howard County, Montgomery County, and DC Public Schools – all increased their substitute teacher pay as school districts across the region compete for these employees.
Not having enough subs has been an obstacle in trying to keep schools open for in-person instruction, especially in this latest COVID-19 Omicron variant wave.
Howard County raised its rate by 25% – but is $20 an hour or less still enough? Just last year McDonald's announced it would raise its entry-level pay to $17 an hour, which is around the same rate some D.C.-area substitutes are being paid.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a substitute pay increase to $17 an hour on Tuesday, which came after a substitute protest the week before.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) provided a 7.3 increase for certified short-term substitutes and also included a stipend to help entice employees, among its recently announced increases. School leadership applauded this, saying MCPS still has one of the highest sub rates in the region. However, when you crunch the numbers … it appears the non-certified, short-term hourly rate increase, was less than a dollar.
"This is not a magical amount of money that’s being dangled in front of people," said Montgomery County Education Association President Jennifer Martin. She also called the increase "modest" and called substitute teachers, essential workers.
"It’s not particularly attractive as you’re a casual laborer. You’re not getting benefits, sick leave and even with the increase in salary, it’s still a pretty – you know there are easier and more secure places to make a living. So for most folks, it’s a job they don’t intend to be in very long," said Martin.
The teachers union president mentioned how districts are trying to draw retired teachers who, in many cases, have the experience and certification, but may not want to subject themselves to this COVID environment.
While it’s not a full picture (some school districts offer higher wagers for long-term or certified substitute teachers) FOX 5 did put together a snapshot of some of the region’s latest hourly base pay rates for substitute teachers:
D.C.: $17/hr ($15.20/hr before January 18th)
Montgomery County: $19.49/hr ($18.78/hr before January15th)
Prince George’s County: $12.29/hr
Howard County: $17.86/hr ($14.29/hr before January 13th)
Frederick County: $20/hr
Fairfax County: $17.79/hr
Arlington County: $18/hr
Loudoun County: $16.10/hr
Prince William County: $17.81/hr
Fairfax County Public School’s spokesperson told FOX 5 back in October is when their school board increased sub pay, which went into effect the next month.
The Loudoun County Schools Spokesperson tells FOX 5 while their regular rate is around $16.10 an hour, they also have a loyalty of $19.05 an hour ($133.37/day) after the 26th day and that LCPS’ incentive rates were approved on November 1st.
Frederick County Public Schools is now at $20 an hour. Reports say the school district approved a $3 increase to begin last month.
Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesperson did not respond to FOX 5’s email request. Online the school system says substitute rates for PGCPS start at less than $13 an hour.
This is a topic on the table in Montgomery County. Martin says the latest school budget proposed by Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight does include pay increases for MCPS workers all across the board.
This week an MCPS official said the school district was at a 35-45% sub-fill rate. An FCPS Spokesperson told FOX 5 pre-pandemic, they were at around an 80% sub-fill rate and are now hitting at around 60% in this latest Omicron wave. The spokesperson also noted these figures change day-to-day.