Amid sub shortage, Wellington Schools hire new firm to look south

By Jonathan Delozier -

Substitute teachers are getting more difficult to find and, to compensate, the Wellington school board is changing its source.

Effective July 1, the district will begin using Renhill Group of Toledo for staffing both substitute teachers and service staff employees.

The decision to move away from using Rachel Wixey and Associates of Maumee was met with cheers by staff members at the board of education’s April meeting. They had complained of a regular shortage of available substitutes.

District treasurer Tina Gabler agreed, but said the shortage is caused by other factors besides what staffing firm is used.

“It’s known to any company in the state there’s a shortage of substitutes,” she said. “As to why, I can’t answer that and they can’t either. They can’t pinpoint it statewide. Here, though, most of the recruitment pool with Rachel Wixey was coming from the northern part of the county. That means we’re competing with larger districts that pay more for substitutes.”

In Wellington, substitute teachers are paid a flat rate of $85 per day. Secretaries, aides, and service staff subs make $8.50 an hour.

Using both Renhill and Rachel Wixey, the district pays that same amount plus a 14 percent retirement contribution, which puts total compensation at $109.94 per day for teachers, $12.09 per hour for service staff, and $11.74 per hour for secretaries and aides.

“We reached out to Renhill because of how much they work with Ashland County, Richland County, and school districts south of us,” said Gabler. “Our sub rates are very comparable, if not a little more than those places. Renhill will create a pool south of us for the district to build on.”

In addition to finding subs closer to Wellington, Renhill will offer the district help with recording absences, on-site fingerprinting, and ease the burden of up-front fees associated with becoming a substitute through payroll reductions.

“School districts went to contracting service out when Obamacare went into effect,” Gabler said. “If substitutes work for more than 30 hours on average per week, we have to offer them insurance. It’s a lot to track. It also lets our employees log in online, tell the contracting firm they won’t be in tomorrow and need a sub, and it’s taken care of. We don’t have to find the substitutes.”

School board member Ayers Ratliff asked during the meeting whether Wellington should consider a raise for its substitutes.

“When you go through the drive-through at McDonald’s, it says they pay $9.15 an hour,” he said. “Shouldn’t we be paying at least what McDonald’s is paying?”

Gabler said Renhill has offered to conduct an assessment of the district’s pay rate to see if upping it will help find a more regular flow of recruits.

“People used to be standing in line to become a school employee because, generally, it was your foot in the door to a full-time position. Now, we have competition. That can mean from another school district or from McDonald’s. The assessment will give us a better idea where we stand. A recommendation could be made next fall to take a look at our hourly rate.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier