KILGORE — Kilgore ISD trustees have voted to increase pay rates up to $20 per day for substitute teachers for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year as more staff members are sent home because of COVID-19.

“Our kids are not the problem — it’s our staff members (being required to quarantine),” Superintendent Andy Baker said.

Many KISD students have parents who work on a Kilgore campus, and when these students are required to stay home, their parents go with them, leaving the campus short an employee for two weeks.

KISD is abiding by state recommendations, which mandate a school employee or student who either tests positive for the virus or who comes in close contact with a person confirmed to have it must quarantine at home for two weeks.

As more students and employees have tested positive, Kilgore campuses have been in need of substitute teachers, Baker said.

“Our issue is, even if we do have one or two of our kiddos that gets sent home for either a close contact or a positive test, their (parents) go with them,” he said. “If you get a kiddo that goes home and their parent is one of our staff members, that employee has to go home, which adds up to one of our employees not being at school. That’s where our subs come in, that’s our issue with our subs.”

Board member Dana Sneed asked Baker about the number of available subs, noting it had previously been as high as 120 to 130.

“It’s down exponentially, but I don’t know how many there are currently,” Baker said. “We’re down a lot.”

Kilgore ISD isn’t the first area district to increase pay for substitutes to attract more candidates. Hallsville and Jefferson ISDs approved extra pay this past month.

“Is (raising the pay rate) going to start us off in January with all these substitute teachers? No, it’s not,” Baker said. “At the very least, it would help us stay above some of our area districts. Maybe they’ll come here now.”

Baker said the pay increase could be covered by the already agreed-upon budget for the remainder of the school year. Instituting the change at the beginning of this year would have required an additional $85,500 in the budget.

He said he believes the district could sustain up to a $20-per-day pay increase for subs, and this increase would make the district more competitive with other local districts in terms of pay rates. He recommended trustees vote to give him the ability to raise pay rates “up to” $20 per day to better position themselves competitively to attract more subs.

Trustees voted unanimously for the change.

Before the change, KISD paid $85 per day for a certified substitute teacher with a degree; $75 per day for non-certified subs with degrees; $100 per day for long-term subs who have worked one assignment for 10 days or more; and $90 per day for non-certified long-term subs.

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