Staff Security in a Contract World
By Amy Joyner
Five years ago, Superintendent Carlos Hicks kept having the same problem when teachers in the Gulfport, Miss., school district called in sick.
Sometimes, the state's second-largest district needed up to 100 substitute teachers a day. But unemployment on the Mississippi coast was just 3 percent -- nearly everyone who wanted a permanent job had one -- and Hicks struggled to find qualified people willing to fill his temporary classroom slots.
"We just couldn't find a large enough cadre of people who wanted to be subs," says Hicks, whose district includes 6,300 students and 500 professional staff.
To fill the void, school counselors, administrative staff, and even principals were called in to work as substitutes. "Somebody else in the school had to stop doing what they're paid to do to go sit with a classroom," Hicks says.
Frustrated, the superintendent mentioned the problem to a fellow Rotary Club member, an executive with Kelly Services, a temporary staff recruitment company the district had used to fill secretarial positions. Could the company also provide substitutes for the Gulfport School District?
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