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Substitute Teaching: No Pay for the Weary

As a result of a $2.8 million "budget error," the Nampa School District in Idaho will soon run out of money for substitute teachers, reports the Idaho Press-Tribune. The solution? Rely on volunteers to do the job.

Steve Kipp, the district's human resource officer, told the paper that volunteer substitutes will be required to pass background and reference checks and sign a contract outlining their responsibilities. Volunteers will not be required to complete training courses (paid substitutes are not required to either, but the district gives preference to those who do, he explained).

The lack of training concerns Carmi Scheller, the vice president of the Nampa Education Association. "To think that someone who hasn't had any training can step in and have a successful instructional day, that's focused on getting kids to all the benchmarks or keeping them on task, that's a hard statement," she said.

The story dovetails nicely with a recent Ed Week Commentary, in which a former administrator argues that substitutes are unnecessary in high schools, and our subsequent forum discussion on the issue.

What are your thoughts? Is using volunteers a better or worse solution than not hiring subs at all? What are the potential pitfalls? (The first one that comes to mind for me is, who the heck would do that job for free?)

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