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ANeSU outsources substitute teacher hiring

BRISTOL — Addison Northeast Supervisory Union expects to save district administrators’ time and increase efficiency by hiring a third-party business to manage substitute teachers in the Bristol-area schools, but some current and former substitutes have expressed concern about the plan’s effectiveness.
The district has hired Kelly Services, a company that specializes in temporary staffing nationwide. The new contract will begin in February.
ANeSU Superintendent David Adams said the new service will bring more substitutes into the district.
“We’re always looking ways to improve organizational structure, and we wanted to broaden our sub pool,” Adams said.
The district currently has 50 substitutes to choose from, which Adams said “from time to time” is not enough.
“By accepting Kelly, we can take advantage of their training and substitute screening practices, and broaden the pool,” Adams said.
Adams added that using Kelly Educational Services, which has an office in South Burlington, will save the district time and improve efficiency.
“We have asked Kelly to aid in the transition of subs currently working with us, who will be able to be employed by Kelly if they so choose,” Adams said.
Jane Stehney, who works at the Kelly Services headquarters in Michigan, said the company provides staffing at schools for instructional, food service and janitorial work.
“We use an automated scheduling system called KASS, which we hear from employees is easy to use,” Stehney said. “It can be accessed via Internet and telephone.”
On the site, teachers can log absences and substitutes can view the postings online. Stehney said school staff can choose substitutes they feel are the best fit for a particular classroom.
“Principals and teachers can go in and say ‘You know what, we want this person because they know this class, she would be great,’” Stehney said.
Several current and former substitutes have expressed concerns about the cost and effectiveness of the new system.
Bristol resident Peter Grant, who has served as a substitute teacher in the district for 20 years, said previously an ANeSU employee would call substitutes in the morning if they were needed. With Kelly Educational Services, substitutes can go online and see postings ahead of time.
However, Grant said that most of the time, teachers do not know when they are going to be absent.
“I told (the district) that 99 percent of the time they call after 6 a.m. I’m not going to wake up at 5:30 to check a website,” Grant said.
Grant also questioned how much money the school was paying for the service.
“I’ve been trying to figure two things: why they’re replacing (the old way) and how much will it cost?” Grant said. “They’re going to have more and more expenses.”
In an email Friday, Adams declined to state how much the district will pay Kelly Services for taking on its sub hiring duties, nor did he make the contract available to review.
“Since substitute calling procedures and personnel assigned to make sub calls varies across our schools, a 1:1 cost comparison would be incomplete,” Adams wrote.
He added that the switch will save the district money.
“In addition to other benefits, we expect to reduce a significant amount of HR resources, especially related to central office and building staff time and costs associated with employee recruitment, training and payroll processing,” Adams wrote.
Adams said he will provide a report to the school boards this month detailing the initiative.
Martha Gurney of Bristol subbed in the district for five years. She said she is concerned the outsourcing of hiring substitutes will decrease the quality of education for students.
“My understanding is that Kelly will call and not tell you what room you’d be in, you wouldn’t know until you showed up,” Gurney said.
Gurney said that when she was a substitute, the sub caller would let her know what room she would be working in. If she did not feel she had a good rapport with that class, she would turn it down.
“As a sub, you have to be acquainted with and have a working knowledge of the students,” Gurney said. “I worked in the same rooms over and over, and got to know the kids’ first and last names.”
Gurney said she worried the Kelly Educational Services approach will not allow the best pairings of substitutes and students.
“I fear they’ll just be looking for a warm body,” Gurney said.
Adams said he is confident that the new system will enable the most qualified substitutes to be paired up with the right classrooms.
“We have an arrangement that allows a list of preferred subs to continue working with us,” he said. “It’s a win-win that has been done in a number of districts. They’ve had a good track record.”
Adams added that ANeSU has hired as full-time faculty some substitutes that were Kelly Educational Services staffers.
Kelley Educational Services partners with 3,000 public and private institutions in 35 states. In Vermont, Burlington School District and Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union also use Kelly Educational Services. Stehney said the company fills 98 percent of all staffing needs on a particular day.

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