EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - As previously reported last week, school officials in Evansville are in desperate need of substitute teachers.
The president of the Evansville Teachers Association now says more than 900 teachers are stressed and overwhelmed, making the demands for substitutes even greater.
“I talk teachers off a ledge on a weekly basis,” says Rust, “saying, ‘I don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m going to resign.’”
Rust says when there are not enough substitute teachers, staff from other areas of the building, or even from other locations in the corporation can be pulled into that classroom to help.
Not only does that staff member lose time to prepare for their own classes, but that also involves keeping track of even more contact tracing.
“They don’t have the time to plan that they need,” says Rust. “The time to take a break just to gather themselves and take a breather.”
While Rust says finding substitute teachers has been a challenge for years, he points to one example from just a few weeks ago.
“We had 75 uncovered rooms,’ says Rust. “Now, that doesn’t mean there were 75 rooms that had no adult in them. They’re pulling people out of offices in the central administration office, administrators elsewhere, or teachers coming over to cover, but that puts even more stress on our teachers and our administrators.”
Education officials like Rust are seeing more and more teachers consider early retirement, or even resigning because of these demands.
“My concern is,” says EVSC School Board Member Terry Gamblin, “are we even going to be able to replace teachers?”
Gamblin says the reason for less substitute teachers this year seems self-explanatory.
“Who wants to step out and go into a triggered area like that, that heaven forbid, you don’t know exactly what you are walking in to,” asked Gamblin.
Indiana state leaders are now targeting one specific group of people who may be able to help out - college students.
Jason Woebkenberg with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation says while college students are home for the holidays, they may be able to substitute teach in their old classrooms to make extra money and help out the school corporation.
More information on becoming a substitute can be found on the EVSC website.
School officials say applicants do not have to be a future educator to become a substitute. Applicants need at least 30 credit hours at the college level and to pass a few background checks.
Rust says his goal for next semester is to focus on scheduling, and to allow more time for teachers to plan and prepare.