Arizona State Board of Education to vote on rule changes for substitute teachers
PHOENIX — The Arizona State Board of Education on Monday will consider changes that are meant to make it easier to get more substitute teachers in the classroom.
This comes as schools across the state are seeing a higher than usual number of teachers and staff out due to COVID-19.
One of the proposed changes would get rid of the 120-day teaching limit for certified substitute teachers so they can stay at a school “as long as is necessary until a contract teacher is hired.”
Mark Joraanstad, executive director of the Arizona School Administrators Association, said this current limitation can be burdensome.
“You may have a substitute who’s doing very well in the classroom, and the classroom is told, ‘I’m sorry, we’ve reached the 120-day limit. She or he has to go to another district,’” he said.
His association and the Rural Arizona Schools Coalition proposed the rule change.
Both groups also want the Arizona State Board of Education to issue emergency substitute teacher certificates for two years instead of one. They believe this will help “reduce the administrative burden on the emergency sub and the school.”
“It would be an additional help, especially in the rural schools where you often have parents who come and say, ‘Listen, I’m a stay-at-home mother or a stay-at-home father. I could come and help a couple days a week,’” Joraanstad said.
Emergency substitute certificates are issued to people with an associate’s degree, high school diploma or GED. Meanwhile, a bachelor’s degree is required for a certified substitute certificate.
Joraanstad stressed that emergency substitute teachers, while helpful to cover classrooms on a temporary basis, “are no replacement for professionally trained educators.”
“So that is a concern, but often it’s better than combining two classrooms into one and having one person have 45 kids in the classroom,” he said.
Gov. Doug Ducey supports the proposed changes, and earlier this month encouraged the Arizona State Board of Education to approve them.
He said it would “give school districts greater flexibility in how they deploy substitutes” and “help get much-needed substitute teachers in the classroom.”
“Substitute teachers have proven to be critical during the pandemic,” Ducey said in a statement. “The state shouldn’t stand in the way of getting them in our classrooms.”
The State Board of Education will vote on the proposed rule changes during a special meeting scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Monday. If approved, they would take effect immediately.