ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene ISD paid $1.6 million for substitute teachers during its 2021-2022 school year, and now, because of the major shortage the district is battling, the substitute’s pay rate has increased.

Sabrina Anderson, an Abilene stay-at-home mom since 2021, decided to reenter the workforce by applying to be a substitute teacher with Abilene ISD.

“It’s kind of a way for me to get my foot in the door and get used to people in the area, as well,” explained Anderson. 

However, she is one of few to choose this line of work, since there is a major substitute teacher shortage. 

“[My family is] like, ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ And I’m like, ‘yeah, I think I do,'” Anderson shared. “Because not only is there a shortage, but I think the kids just really need it more than anything.”

Abilene ISD told KTAB/KRBC this sub shortage has largely affected its school system.

“The impact on our community is, if we have educated students who are ready to be contributing citizens to the City of Abilene, that’s really important. It’s what schools are for, is to educate our future, and if we don’t have the people to help us do that, then really, it’s our future that is suffering from that,” said Associate Superintendent of Human Resources for Abilene ISD, Alison Sims.

At the Abilene ISD school board meeting Tuesday, Sims spoke more to the sub shortage impact, providing some key data, “We are at a 77% fill rate. Our goal was to be at 90%.”

Even though the amount of substitute teachers Abilene ISD has is comparable to the same amount as before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sims explained, “Something strange happened after the pandemic. After we came back, and that is that we have had more absences.”

Sims said she believes the change could be because teachers are taking more precautions when they are sick. During this, the 2022-2023, school term, AISD said more than 1,100 teacher absences have gone unfilled. In these events, she said they’ve had to pull other faculty and staff members from their regular jobs on campus to fill in the classroom.

“The problem with that is that’s not their main job,” reiterated Sims. “They’re really supposed to be doing something else.”

Even though this shortage has affected every school in Abilene ISD, it has mainly affected the middle schools with the lowest fill rate. 

This affects Dr. Christopher Bailey, the principal of Clack Middle School. 

Reportedly, this shortage is greatly impacting Clack Middle School’s Principal, Dr. Christopher Bailey, who noted, “A strong substitute teacher pool is so crucial to us, providing that continuity of instruction.”

Dr. Bailey told KTAB/KRBC there are around 300 teachers in AISD’s middle schools, and because with this many people, anyone could get sick or have a family emergency, they are having to find a sub or fill-in almost every day.

Even though Abilene ISD said it is supportive of teachers taking time off when they are sick, the district is encouraging more people to help them fill in when this happens. 

Certified teachers who are subbing are now paid $110 dollars per day, with a $50 increase after each 10 consecutive days. 

For non-certified teachers, they are paid $100 per day with the same increase. 

The criteria to work at the school is as follows: 

  • A paraprofessional job at the school now only requires a high school diploma
  • In order to sub in a classroom, you only need 60 hours of college
  • All jobs require a background check and fingerprinting

Click here to learn more about subbing with Abilene ISD.