Brevard Public Schools offering bonuses to holiday substitute teachers

Additional pay comes amid national substitute teacher shortage

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Faced by a national labor shortage, Brevard Public Schools is offering additional pay to substitute teachers who agree to work certain days around the district’s winter break, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Substitutes who agree to work Dec. 20 and 21, the two days before the district’s winter break begins, will receive an additional $50. The district offered similar incentives prior to the Thanksgiving break before extending the break to encompass the entire week, and substitutes who had agreed to work Nov. 22-Nov. 23 can earn a $50 bonus for working one day from Nov. 29-Jan. 29, and $100 if two days are worked.

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Substitute teachers are in short supply around the country, and BPS is no exception. BPS spokesman Russell Bruhn said the district has a deep pool of potential substitute teachers, but many are turning down the opportunity when called.

“We’re seeing less yes’s and more no’s than in the years past,” Bruhn said. “So that’s really the issue more than anything else.”

Brevard Federation of Teachers President Anthony Colucci said the shortage begin years ago, but has been hastened by COVID-19; many substitute teachers are older and more vulnerable to the virus, and did not feel safe working in schools during the pandemic. But low pay and the nature of the job has long played a role.

“The difficulty of the job for the compensation cannot be overlooked,” Colucci said. “As a classroom teacher for 16 years, I still get a little nervous going to substitute a class because if you don’t know the students, you don’t know their families, you don’t know their names, you’re going in there without a lot of ability to influence them.”

The low availability of substitutes mean teachers at an elementary level are spending less time in their actual roles and teachers in secondary grades are giving up planning periods to cover for others.

“Therefore, they’re having to do more planning on their own time after school, which is extremely stressful.”

Colucci said he’s glad to see the district investing more money into substitute teaching roles and hopes they will entice more people to work.

“I think the only way we’re going to find out if pay makes a difference is through things by changing the pay and seeing if we get more subs and have fewer openings each day,” Colucci said.