District partners with company for substitutes

SPS partners with company to provide substitute teachers
Posted on 04/12/2021
Elementary classroom(SPS) -- Sapulpa Public Schools has partnered with ESS South Central to provide management services to help with staffing shortages.

ESS helps school districts across the country find substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and other support staff.

“Our teachers need this. Our principals need this,” said Assistant Superintendent Johnny Bilby as he presented the partnership agreement to the Sapulpa School Board of Education on April 12.

Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, ESS will be responsible for finding substitutes to fill the needs of the district. Currently, the district is able to fill a teacher’s absence with a substitute teacher approximately 40 percent of the time. When a sub is not found, other teachers share the responsibility of covering the class while losing their own planning period.

“Our goal is to keep our teachers in their classrooms,” said Superintendent Rob Armstrong. “They don’t need to be covering classes that don’t have a sub assigned. They need to be able to use their time preparing and planning for the next day.”

ESS works with a school district nearby and that district has reported a 92 percent fill rate this year. However, just filling vacancies isn’t the company’s sole priority.

“Quality and quantity have to go together,” said ESS VP of Business Development Fred Bentsen about the high fill rate. “That’s what makes our operation so successful.”

ESS has a pool of 55,000 substitute and permanent employees in 29 states. Bentsen said all of their employees undergo background checks and are vetted just as the school district does currently. ESS substitutes are paid weekly, receive benefits, and participate in comprehensive training and professional development.

Bentsen said the company will begin recruiting locally to build its staff.

“The best subs are those who already care about your community. We’re looking for folks in your community that want to be subs,” said Bentsen.

The Substitute Staff Placement Agreement was unanimously approved during the April meeting of the Sapulpa School Board of Education.
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