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Charlotte-area schools use pay hikes, bonuses and benefits to entice substitute teachers

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Iredell-Statesville Schools are boosting pay for substitute teachers and offering new incentives to compete for people willing to cover classrooms.

A state principals' association has labeled staff shortages the biggest challenge facing North Carolina schools this year. Teachers are quitting in record numbers, and the retired educators who often work as subs are holding off for fear of being exposed to the COVID-19 delta variant, administrators say.

“Our country is experiencing a serious shortage of building-level employees in public schools. We are hopeful that citizens of Iredell County will realize that these positions are vital,“ ISS Superintendent Jeff James said in a statement announcing pay hikes for subs.

James raised substitute pay to $90 a day for subs who meet the minimum standards and $110 for those who are certified to teach. People who sign on as permanent subs can make $107 a day if they're uncertified and $130 a day if they're certified.

CMS adds bonuses, permanent posts

On Friday , CMS announced plans to expand its "guest teacher" program from 42 schools to all 180. That program will hire at least one permanent sub for each school. CMS initially offered $150 a day, but will boost that to $180 a day for certified subs. The guest teachers are eligible for full benefits, with the positions funded through June 2023.

CMS currently pays $103 for certified subs and $80 a day for others. Starting Nov. 1, the district is adding a $500 bonus for subs who complete at least 10 assignments a month and $200 for those who do five to nine assignments. Federal COVID-19 aid will cover costs, and the bonuses will be available through June.

Copyright 2021 WFAE

Ann Doss Helms covers education for WFAE. She was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer for 32 years, including 16 years on the education beat. She has repeatedly won first place in education reporting from the North Carolina Press Association and won the 2015 Associated Press Senator Sam Open Government Award for reporting on charter school salaries.