AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Amarillo area’s two largest school districts, Amarillo ISD and Canyon ISD, are working to recruit more substitute teachers.

Amarillo ISD is facing a shortage of subs. According to the Coordinator of Auxiliary Personnel, Paige, TeBeest, the district typically prefers to have around 700 people in its substitute teacher pool.

“Currently, we have about 520 substitutes in the pool. However, there’s only probably about 20% that are actually working at this time,” TeBeest said on Tuesday. “Part of that is some of them are still completing required trainings.”

Once more subs complete training, she anticipates a smaller gap in their sub pool. Still, TeBeest said AISD always needs more substitute teachers.

“We always have absences. We probably have 9, 10% of our population that’s out on a daily basis, and so we need substitutes every single day and we would love to get more in place,” she said.

To recruit more subs, AISD has raised its pay rates.

“We’ve increased our pay by $50 per day, for both our general sub pools are pre-assigned subs, just across the board,” TeBeest added. “So, we’re now starting our pay at $132 per day for our entry-level substitutes, which is a 61% increase from what it was previously.”

She said AISD has also added an incentive for subs that could total up to an extra $2,000 over three years.

“We’re going to pay our substitutes who work 100 days, starting this year, they’ll get an extra $500 at the end of this school year,” she said. “And then the following year, they’ll get another extra $500, as long as they work another 100 days in that school year, and then the third school year, they’ll get an extra $1,000.”

TeBeest said subs in AISD have the freedom to choose their assignments, saying, “Whether it be a campus that’s closer to their home, whether it be a grade level that they’re the most comfortable with, whether it be a subject area that they’re the most comfortable with, but we allow them to go in and pick those things when they pick their schedule.”

On Tuesday Canyon ISD‘s Human Resources Coordinator, John Forbis, said the district feels confident about the size of its substitute teacher pool after increasing pay for subs.

“Depending on background, that is going to pay anywhere from $100 to $115 a day,” Forbis said. “And just in the week since we’ve announced that, we’ve had a lot of subs, or a lot of applicants into our sub pool.”

However, as a growing school district, Forbis said it will continue to hire—especially as COVID continues to spread.

“We would love to have as large of a sub pool as we can. You know, going into this year, we feel confident, but there are some unknowns still, so we definitely want to be prepared,” Forbis added.

Forbis said the district wants to make sure it has enough subs in the classroom and on campuses to operate safely without impacting instruction, saying, “With students, you always need an adult in the classroom and so anytime that we are having to quarantine teachers, that’s going to demand a lot from our substitutes.”

Following an executive order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, neither school district has a mask mandate. Masks are still optional for students and staff.

Click the following links to see the requirements and apply to be a substitute teacher at either Amarillo ISD or Canyon ISD.