Southern Arizona school districts relying on substitutes as school year begins

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:30 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the school year kicks off, many school districts have unfilled spots in their classrooms.

The national teacher shortage is forcing schools here in Southern Arizona to rely on substitutes.

“You have a teacher vacancy issue which is about 2,500 across the state and then you also have unqualified personnel that are subbing for those classrooms,” Superintendent of Pima County Schools Dustin Williams said.

This year, a lot of substitute teachers are filling the gaps of certified teachers. TUSD, Southern Arizona’s largest school district, has over 100 vacancies for general teachers and more than 50 for special ed. TUSD along with Marana Unified, and Amphitheater public schools are starting the year with substitutes and long term substitutes.

“School districts are doing everything they can do. They’re holding hiring fairs. They’re recruiting. They’re taking some of their Esser dollars, their retention bonuses - anything and everything they can do. The big issue is there is still not enough money in this industry to fund it the way that we can make people want to come to the education profession,” Williams said.

With fewer certified teachers and seasoned, long term subs applying for open positions, students could see a lot of inconsistency in the classroom.

“When you have a substitute that is a different sub every other day, then the kids get dysregulated and the staff is like, ‘Who’s coming in now? Who’s teaching what lesson? Are the lessons being taught?’ All those things, so that’s the problem,” Tucson Education Association President Margaret Chaney said.

In some districts, including Amphi, vacancies are being covered by current teachers. This means these teachers are taking on added assignments on top of their usual workload.

“Anytime you increase the size of the classroom, it has a negative impact on the other students because they’re not going to get the level of support they may need. as far as the staff members are concerned, it’s a headache,” Chaney said.

If you’re interested in applying or learning more about the open positions at Southern Arizona’s schools, you can find more information below.

Tucson Unified School District

Marana Unified School District

Amphitheater Public Schools

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