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Pleasant Valley School District tries to solve substitute issue

Published March 26. 2014 02:01PM

The Pleasant Valley School District needs substitute teachers and officials are doing something about it.

The administration and school board have been looking for incentives, including a possible pay increase

Meanwhile, PV is initiating a Guest Teacher Program which will provide substitute teacher training to people who have a bachelor's degree in any area but do not have a Pennsylvania teaching certificate.

This program will be held at the Pleasant Valley Administration Building on Route 115 at the Pleasant Valley Middle School on April 1, 2, and 3. The cost is $25. To register, contact the Pleasant Valley School District Human Resources office. Upon registration, an information packet will be sent. Interested people can call 570-402-1000, ext. 1209.

Currently, substitute training is held at the Colonial Intermediate 20, which is located in Nazareth. People earn a substitute certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. That certification qualifies them to substitute in any IU school in the district. PVSD is a member of IU 20.

"We participate in it, but it is run by the IU. The problem is, we don't get many teachers from it," says Chris Fisher, PVSD assistant superintendent. He believes that the classes pull in more people from the Nazareth and surrounding area and then they substitute in those areas because of driving proximity.

PV is hoping that by offering the Guest Teacher Program, it will be an incentive for people in the West End area to apply for substitute teaching positions. When completed, the guest teachers can leave the program with an emergency permit issued by the PDE and the basic knowledge to be an effective substitute teacher in Pleasant Valley School District classrooms.

"We're taking an existing program and doing it at PV to make it closer to home," Fisher said.

The advantage for those who take the PV program is they will have an actual orientation to PV's buildings and programs, and the PV administration will be doing the training, giving the new substitutes an opportunity to get to know them.

The training session will teach classroom management techniques, lesson plans, special education, development and behavior of age groups, and how to deal with today's students. Participants will have the opportunity to observe classrooms and learn more about the process and program.

Getting substitutes has been an ongoing issue for PV. Several discussions have been held at school board meetings lately.

At a board meeting in January, Carole Geary, PVSD superintendent, introduced a survey of substitute teacher rates throughout the Colonial Intermediate Unit 20. The rates vary from a low of $70 at Pen Argyl to a high of $100 at some other schools such as Pocono Mountain and Bethlehem Vo-Tech. PV pays $80 a day.

At a Feb. 28 board meeting, director Len Peeters wanted to raise PV's substitute rate to $105 a day. Director Susan Kresge said she didn't want to see it go that high, and Geary said it was not budgeted for this school year and a decision should not be made at this time. To date, no action has been taken to raise the rate.

"We're trying to be proactive to an existing problem. All school districts are going through the same thing. Some districts go through a sub service, like a temp service. We're going to try this approach," Fisher said.

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