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Kasson-Mantorville raises substitute teacher pay for first time in over a decade

Kasson-Mantorville isn't the only school district that's been making changes to their pay for substitute teachers.

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Kasson-Mantorville High School.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin
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KASSON — In an effort to stay competitive and retain talent in a tough market, Kasson-Mantorville Public Schools is increasing the amount it pays substitute teachers.

The school board voted unanimously during a recent meeting to increase the pay for substitute teachers from $100 per day to $135. According to Mark Matuska, it's the first time the district has brought the issue to the board in his 12 years as superintendent.

"It's terrible," Matuska said of the shortage. "There just aren't a lot of subs out there."

He hopes the increase will bring back some substitutes who have left, as well as attract some new ones.

The district, along with others in the area, are still recovering from the pandemic's effect on education. A lot of substitute teachers are retired full-time teachers. And many of them decided to hang up their hats when schools started reeling from the impact of COVID-19.

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Some school districts even have different pay tiers depending on whether the substitute is a retired teacher. Prior to the upgrade, Kasson-Mantorville payed $10 more per day for retired teachers. With the pay increase, however, the district is paying all substitute teachers the same.

K-M Elementary Principal Ariana Wright reiterated Matuska's comments about the need to retain more substitute teachers.

"In the last five years, I've seen the need for substitutes increase, but the pandemic just kind of put accelerant on that," Wright said.

Kasson-Mantorville isn't the only district that's been searching for ways to find more substitute teachers. Last year, Stewartville created a program called "subs for subs," encouraging anyone in the community with a degree to become licensed as a substitute teacher. And Byron Public Schools is set to vote Monday on increasing substitute pay, citing competition from K-M, Rochester and Pine Island.

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The issue has reverberated across a much larger area as well. Last December, Education Minnesota, a statewide teachers union, emphasized the issue with a campaign called “At a breaking point: Educating during COVID-19.” The union's president, Denise Specht, said the lack of substitute teachers is putting pressure on other teachers and administrators.

Matuska's comments demonstrated that pressure on the local level too. He said when the district can't find enough substitutes, other teachers will give up their prep periods to teach in other classes.

“We don’t have enough adults in our schools in all areas, but especially substitutes. The impact is felt by their colleagues who cover for them,” Forum Communications reported Specht saying. “Even before the pandemic there was a teacher shortage and substitute teacher shortage, and COVID has really shone a bright light on it. Retired educators, who tend to be the go-to people for substitute teaching, are not interested in taking those roles at all."

Similar to Stewartville's efforts, Wright indicated Kasson-Mantorville is willing to help potential teachers find their way to the classroom.

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"We're here to help and support if you have a passion and love for kids," Wright said. "Our teachers do a great job of creating a plan that is really easy to follow but really helps kids grow. It's just important to have that caring adult there to support kids every day."

Related Topics: EDUCATIONKASSON-MANTORVILLE
Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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