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Education: School board approves outsourcing deal for substitutes

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Principals say they don’t object to the Georgetown County School District’s plan to outsource substitute teachers as long as they can keep their current subs.

The school board approved a one-year contract with Kelly Educational Staffing this week. The firm will begin providing substitute teachers by January, when the district was faced with paying health care costs for some of its subs under the Affordable Care Act. The district estimates it will save $88,963 in wages and benefits and $104,690 in administrative costs.

“As long as the current subs we use are able to transition over to that, I have no problem with that,” said Waccamaw High principal David Hammel. He agreed it will save some staff time at the school, but said even the current computer-based phone system “beats the old system of me calling at 5:30 in the morning.”

Vervatine Reid, principal at Waccamaw Elementary, said Kelly told principals earlier this year that they would be able to keep their current substitutes. Although they will have to apply and take evaluations from Kelly, Reid said the company offered training to any who don’t meet its criteria.

“I was impressed,” she said.

The problem with the current system is that it can lead to double-booking of subs, she said. The elementary school can use up to 20 subs a week when professional development and illness impact the staff.

Kelly will also allow the school to create a priority list of subs. It can also block subs that the school doesn’t want. Under the current system, that requires a written explanation from the principal. “Sometimes that’s tricky,” Reid said.

Jon Tester, the district human resource director, said substitute teachers hired by Kelly will get on-going training. The district offers one session before subs are hired.

“We’re excited about it,” he said.

Board Member Arthur Lance said he had “minor reservations,” but joined the 9-0 vote for approval.

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