Outsourcing Substitutes…#sigh #scsk12 #budget

Saving money is one thing,
but the math doesn’t even work on this deal.

I think we need to call in the subs for some of these members.
I think we need to call in
the subs for some of these members.
Tonight the Shelby County School Board is going to consider a proposal to use Kelly staffing services to place substitutes for the district in the upcoming year.

According to this article at the Commercial Appeal, the district doesn’t have the in house resources to fill the 800 – 1000 teacher and teacher aide absences that happen each day. The district says they’re operating at 80%, which means classrooms could be teacherless (which we all agree is bad). So they propose to do this deal with Kelly Staffing, so they can use their existing staffing model to get the subs to the schools at a higher assignment rate.


Now I see both sides of this argument. Its a liability for the district to have classrooms without teachers (or subs). On the other side, using a temp agency makes it sound like any ole Joe Blow will be able to go in and play “teacher” for the day.

Well, that’s not how its gonna work…in theory.

Current subs will be grandfathered in, and Kelly will use its massive resources to get other folks to fill in when they need them.

This all sounds good in theory, but I can’t help but wonder what happens when it doesn’t work, or some guy on the sex offender registry gets assigned to a school (which would be a catastrophe of epic proportions).

Will Kelly be required to get certified teachers? Better yet: What will the qualifications be to become a sub in the Shelby County Schools? Heck, what are they now? (Here’s the answer)


Here are the top two things the district expects of Kelly:

1. On average, SCS experiences approximately 800-1,000 teacher/teacher assistant absences/day; Due to staff capacity issues, SCS HR has only been able to maintain a fill rate of about 80-85% (there are only two people on staff who are assigned to substitute management, and who also have other duties), leaving dozens of classrooms empty on any given day. Our recommended vendor has an average fill rate nationally of 98% and locally (surrounding districts) of 100%
2. Next year the district will be responsible for providing employer paid health care for employees working, on average, above 30 hours per week. We estimate this would add 200 employees to the district’s health insurance plan – estimated cost is being researched and will be provided in Board presentation

Subs in the Kelly system will be able to buy into their health insurance…assuming they keep their hours above 30/week.

I get being all cost conscious, but I’m still not comfortable with the idea that people are these expendable things that can be shuffled around over a couple percentage points of your budget. I know…this is the world Reagan built for us, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.


My biggest problem with this is the top number…$11,000,000.

Let’s do some simple math…but first, lets look at what subs get paid:

Fewer than 20 consecutive days $128.95/per day
Certified Substitute Teacher (after working 20 consecutive day in the same assignment and has a valid Tennessee Teaching license in the subject area in which he/she is subbing) $214.35/per day
Assistants $13.70/per hour

Now, lets do some math here…

# Absent Cost Per Day Cost Per Year
800 Teachers $103,160 $18,568,800
800 Assistants $65,760 $11,836,800
400 Teachers/400 Assistants $84,460 $15,202,800
200 Teachers/600 Assistants $75,110 $13,519,800

There is no way to get to $11m…unless you’re not really having to place 800 subs a day.

Which begs the question…how many are you really having to place a day?

According to next year’s school budget, there will be 7,191 teachers and 1,395 teacher’s aides (p.20) or about 8,600 folks who would fall under the ‘needs a sub’ category (not sure if guidance counselors, librarians, etc. fall under that category, but I don’t think so).

For the district to have to fill 800-1000 subs/day, between 9.3% and 11.6% of next year’s teacher population would have to be out on EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.

Now, when there’s a flu or something like that going around, I get it. Maybe it peaks at 1000. But 1000 on a daily basis? Seriously?

I find that incredibly hard to believe.

More Math

Here’s another thing. Last year, the district says they budgeted $11,517,482 for substitutes. Last year there were a whole lot more teachers (because every school in the county was in the district). This year, the budget calls for $8,436,504 for substitutes (p.89).

But we’re gonna pay $11m to get someone else to do the heavy lifting and get around paying health insurance?

Is that what I’m to understand?

We’re going to pay over $2.5m more for a private company to handle our subs so we won’t have to hassle with assigning them or pay health insurance.

That’s what I’m reading into this whole thing.

In the process, you’re going to make an already difficult job even less attractive (the few who actually work every day a year (and its gotta be a few) probably qualify for ACA subsidies…if they aren’t already covered).

The most a sub could make is just under $37k/year. That’s assuming they work every day, which knowing some subs I can tell you, they don’t.

But I know, I know, we gotta make sure people that don’t send their kids to public schools don’t feel double taxed by their discretionary spending on private schools!!!

SIDEBAR: yes, some of them actually have the gall to think they’re being double taxed for paying private school tuition…when they’d do it no matter how good public schools are because its just as much about what the Jones’ down the street are doing (ie. status) as education.


Look, I don’t have a problem with fiscal restraint. I understand that we can’t throw money at every project in the public schools. But seriously people…this crap has gone way over the top.

I also understand that the schools are treated like society’s social workers…tasked with fixing all the things we, as a society, have screwed up, while at the same time being society’s whipping boy for not getting it done on a budget.

Its asinine.

But that’s what we expect…cure poverty, reduce crime, end teen pregnancy (without mentioning how it happens), and for God’s sake, bring up our low graduation rate/college degree attainment…and do it for nothing, because we’re just that damn self-absorbed to believe we can have it all and pay nothing for it.

Teachers, look out. The way things are going Kelly will be your new boss next year. Your union’s already been busted by the State Legislature…don’t think this school board won’t do it to you as well…and with a grin that says “fiscal responsibility”.

And while you’re at it… you better keep that performance up, lest someone decide you just aren’t getting it done cheap enough for their bottom lines.

Because that’s where we’re headed…and folks, it ain’t pretty…unless you keep your rich uncle on your side…which I just didn’t do.


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