Our educators need backup

We owe it to them, and to our students, to provide for an adequate pool of substitute employees.

There is a growing problem in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, and it impacts every school, student, administrator, teacher and education support professional. The problem is the lack of substitute workers who can step in to ensure that student learning continues even during the absence of a teacher or paraprofessional.

Schools across the district are struggling to find substitute workers, not only for teacher positions, but for custodians, food services, instructional assistants and every other job category.

This means that if a teacher is out sick, their students are sometimes divided up among other classes rather than receive the individual attention and instruction we know to be critical to learning. Principals take on the task of mopping floors and emptying garbage cans rather than focusing on the day-to-day operations of our schools.

Our public schools are built on every member of the staff contributing to its overall success.

When a team member falls ill, suffers an injury, or has an unplanned family emergency, we as community members owe it to them, and to our students, to provide for an adequate pool of substitute employees so they can take the time they need.

As presidents of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, we hear about the lack of available substitutes frequently. Our members are dedicated to their students and are often reluctant to take their needed leave because they’re concerned about the impact their absence will have on their students.

No public school employee should be put in a position of sacrificing their own personal health or well-being because of concerns over who will step in to fill their shoes.

The applications for substitute positions are all available on the KPBSD website along with the criteria and qualifications needed for each job category. Subbing is a great opportunity to get to know your public schools, interact with students, and help support your community.

Our hope is that our associations can work with the KPBSD school board, Superintendent John O’Brien, and other community leaders to raise awareness about the requirements and application processes for becoming a substitute employee in our district.

We know there are talented, hardworking, and highly qualified members of our community who could step in and fill these vital positions. We need to work together to ensure they have the information and the ability to apply.

We look forward to a healthy dialogue about how we can increase the number of substitute employees in our district so we can continue to grow, improve and provide for an excellent education for every child, every day.

David Brighton is president of Kenai Peninsula Education Association President. Anne McCabe is president of Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association.

• David Brighton is president of Kenai Peninsula Education Association President. Anne McCabe is president of Kenai Peninsula Eduation Support Association.

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