Lujan Grisham Asks State Employees, Guardsman To Become Teacher Subs
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is asking the national guard and state workers to volunteer to fill substitute teachers openings across the state.
Governor Lujan Grisham said the “Supporting Teachers and Families” initiative would encourage state workers and National Guard members to volunteer to become licensed substitute teachers or child care workers.
Standing in front of Santa Fe High School with education officials on Wednesday, the Governor said schools are a critical source of stability in the lives of children and they better learn in the classroom and amongst their peers. Lujan Grisham says teachers, parents and students need more consistency.
“Monday you’re open, Wednesday you’re not, Friday you’re open, Monday you’re not. After school is open, after school is not. Early morning programs are open, no they’re not. School is open but child care isn’t. It has been impossible,” she said.
All volunteers would still have to go through the background checks and other requirements to become substitute teachers and child care workers. The fee for the substitute license is currently being waived by the state.
Guardsmen and state employees will not receive additional pay to be substitutes.
Fifty guardsmen have already signed up to take part. They should start on Monday.
Currently, applicants need at least a high school diploma or its equivalent to be eligible.
Lujan Grisham says the needs of the schools and state agencies will be monitored so state services won’t be affected.
School districts around the country and in New Mexico have been facing severe staffing shortages, particularly for substitutes as schools try to remain open during the pandemic.
The Santa Fe School District is currently operating clases remotely due to a lack of available substitutes.
"Santa Fe Public Schools greatly appreciates the STAF initiative, as this will be instrumental in helping us return and continue in-person learning by covering staff vacancies and reducing the stress on our remaining staff who have taken on additional duties," said Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez.
In addition, SFPS increased substitute teacher pay in November.
SFPS’ substitute teacher pay rateshave increased by $20 for non-degreed, degreed and licensed substitutes. Daily rates are now between $110 and $130 for PreK to K-8 schools and $120 and $145 for secondary schools.
Long-term substitutes' daily rates (10 or more consecutive days in the same position) increased $20 for those who are non-degreed and $15 for those who are degreed and are now between $120 and $210.
"Our substitute teachers are vital members of our school communities. We greatly appreciate their support and value the contribution they make to our schools, educators and students," Chavez said. "I encourage anyone interested to apply today and encourage a friend to do the same."
Additionally, the NM Public Education Department announced Wednesday that the application fee for initial and renewal of substitute and educational assistant licenses is waived through the end of March.
About 60 districts and charter schools in New Mexico have done the same since winter break.
Secretary of Public Education Kurt Steinhuase says the latest estimate shows New Mexico is short about 900 substitutes.
“We’ve heard from multiple districts that a lack of substitute teachers is among the most critical staffing issues right now, and they’ve asked for the state’s support,” Steinhaus said. “This is state government at its best, and we are ready to step up to support our teachers, who have been on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly two years now, by increasing the state’s pool of substitute teachers.”
Since the beginning of the year, 75 child care facilities have partially or completely closed.
Currently, schools and child care facilities are forced to temporarily close or shift to virtual learning when too many staff members test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as close contacts and must isolate or quarantine for five days.
State officials say they hope to see the volunteers begin arriving in classrooms by next week.