The Beaverton School District is also offering an 18% pay raise for subs as an incentive.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Beaverton School District is back to in-person learning on Wednesday, Sept. 8., Beaverton Valley Times - News The district is offering FLEX as a remote alternative, but the online curriculum has its limitations.  Beaverton to return to in-person school Sept. 8

Children are finally back in the classroom. Now schools are grappling with getting substitute teachers in the classroom. Beaverton School District officials are hoping to stem their shortage of substitute teachers and full-time classified roles by offering pay raises and hiring bonuses.

Licensed substitute teachers at all grade levels will be eligible for bonuses between $500 and $3,300, depending on how many days worked in the school year.

In addition, the district is raising the daily pay rate from $195 to $230, an 18% increase.

Like the rest of the nation, the pandemic has caused Beaverton's labor force to dwindle to profound levels. The sub pool — which typically hovers around 900 — is now between 250 and 300 people short, said district spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah.

Beaverton is experiencing this shortage for a number of reasons, Shah said. One key reason is that the district actually hired a number of teachers from the sub pool as full-time teachers.

A number of former substitute teachers in the pool are also hesitant about returning to the classroom.

Outside the bonuses, Bailey-Shah said the district is also trying to emphasize its COVID-19 safety protocols.

"One of the groups of people that we're trying to entice to work as substitute teachers is retired teachers," said Bailey-Shah. "These folks tend to be older and may have more hesitancy about coming back into schools, but they're also the people who are most well-suited for the work."

People interested in becoming a substitute teacher in Beaverton schools only need a bachelor's degree in any field. Once hired, the district will sponsor what is called a restricted teaching license.

"If somebody ever had an interest in working in education, but they're like, 'Man, you know, I don't want to make the investment in my education and go through the licensing process,' now that can be a substitute," Shah said. "You can come in without a license and see if education is a place where you want to continue to work long-term."

Beaverton's problems with attracting more subs reflect a statewide trend.

Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission executive director Anthony Rosilez told Pamplin Media Group that the state had at least 8,300 active substitute licenses in December 2019. This figure does not include retirees and other part-time school staff with active teaching licenses. Today, Oregon is down to about 4,738 substitute teachers.

In an effort to increase the substitute teacher shortage, Oregon has relaxed some of its requirements to become a sub, introducing an emergency substitute teaching license. Unlike the restricted teacher's license, the emergency license does not require a bachelor's degree.

"It temporarily relaxes the specific higher education requirement of the traditional substitute license but mandates impactful administrative support for the emergency licensed sub," Rosilez said. "This license will allow school districts to reach a wider pool of potential substitute teachers. In terms of the number of people who are applying for sub licenses, we can see that number is significantly down."

While Portland Public Schools is accepting emergency licenses, Beaverton still requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree.

The school district is seeking at-will substitute teachers as well as deployable substitute teachers, who would sign a one-year contract for the year.

This year, Beaverton introduced a new category: quarantine subs.

"These are to support our students who are in quarantine, and so that's a new one," Shah said.

In addition to a sub shortage, the school district is also experiencing a shortage in classified positions like bus drivers, nutrition service workers, custodians, para-educators and office staff. Beaverton is now offering a $500 hiring bonus for these positions.

The hiring bonus applies for full-time classified staff, not substitute custodians and other such workers, Shah said.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!