Creek Struggles to Find Subs

How a lack of substitute teachers has affected the school

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Madison Seckman

TEACHERS SUBBING: Ashley Jordan, who has taught AP World History (APWH) in the past, subs for Jodi Best’s APWH class on Feb. 28. With Best’s long-term absence due to illness, teachers such as Jordan have had to fill in. “We’re always figuring out how we can take care of each other and make sure our classes are covered,” history teacher Kathleen Allen said.

CCSD has been short on substitute teachers since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and during the Omicron variant the number of available substitutes declined even more.

“The amount of teachers missing from classrooms has stayed pretty level, but the amount of people willing to come and substitute has dropped significantly,” CCSD Deputy Superintendent Jennifer Perry said.

According to Principal Ryan Silva, even through the pandemic, the number of teachers absent per day at Creek has been consistent with other years.

“On average, we were missing about 11 or 12 teachers a day, and that’s not a very high number for a faculty as big as ours,” Silva said.

Even though the number of teacher absences at Creek has stayed level, the district is still in need of substitute teachers.

“Some of the people who we would normally have subbing at Cherry Creek High School [are] folks who have [been] retired for maybe 10, 15 years,” Assistant Principal Marcus McDavid said.

Many substitutes who are retired are senior citizens, so the risk of being exposed to COVID at Creek, a school of nearly 4,000 students, can make them hesitant to come.

Since more subs are needed, CCSD has been trying to entice substitute teachers by increasing their salaries.

“Before, [the pay was] about 120 [dollars per day]; we increased it to 160 [per day] last year,” Perry said. “Right now in the Omicron variant, we’ve added an additional $50 a day, so if you sub for us, it’s $210 a day.”

The additional $50 per day ended right before spring break.

Even though Creek has about the same amount of substitutes teaching in classrooms as other high schools in the district, as the largest high school in CCSD, it’s not as difficult to fill in absences because of the number of teachers already working at Creek.

“Partly because you’re so big, and you have so many teachers, you have that much more opportunity to fill in for each other,” Perry said. “Because of all the off periods [at Creek] . . . you can find somebody who can sub for a couple periods that day.”

In order to ensure that all classes are filled, last year Creek decided to create a substitute plan where all administrators, counselors, and deans would be assigned days to sub if necessary. This plan affects every administrator from the bottom to top positions, and it is not uncommon to see district leaders, principals, and counselors subbing in classes.

Many administrators, including Silva, were teachers before they became administrators, and this experience often helps while they are subbing in the classroom.

“In terms of me going in [to sub], I enjoy it,” Silva said.

Besides administrators, teachers are covering for their colleagues as well, which can be especially taxing.

“That means that people don’t have off periods,” German teacher Susanne Smith said. “[The teachers] don’t have time to eat lunch, or they have to cancel appointments with students.”

Even so, teachers are still willing to help each other out when unexpected absences make it difficult to find a substitute teacher.

“We’re always figuring out how we can take care of each other and make sure our classes are covered,” history teacher Kathleen Allen said.