Subs On The Menu

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District: Syracuse City School District
(SCSD), Syracuse, New York

Strategy: Automated Substitute Teacher Placement System

• Every day a certain percentage of teachers in K–12 school districts across America call in sick or take personal days. The Syracuse City School District is not immune to this. With an instructional staff of 3,000 in 39 schools in the SCSD, there are 200 to 300 teachers absent from class on a typical school day. Most teachers call in and leave detailed voice mails that must be checked, with a growing list of names added to the daily absence list. Then, school staff must make outbound phone calls to their standing list of regular substitute teachers, lining up any subs they can find to fill the vacancies that day—a daunting and increasingly unmanageable task.

SCSD needed an easy way to fill classrooms in need with qualified substitute teachers. To solve the problem, SCSD purchased Sub-IT from Central Xchange. Using telecom, web-enabled solutions, and database technology, Sub-IT allows the district to efficiently place the most qualified substitutes available into the schools. Using Sub-IT, teachers need only have phones or Internet access to communicate with the district on their availability on any particular day. Substitute teachers simply call or log on to the program to report their status. Absent teachers even have the ability to pick which substitutes they want to be contacted first, as well as indicate a preference for skills or areas of expertise.

In a little more than a year, the highly flexible Sub-IT system has taken the district from using paper and answering machines—a process having 15 separate steps—to hiring a substitute in four simple steps. Furthermore, SCSD has found the system to be cost effective—only $1.75 per absence—and, equally important, it meets with the approval of the SCSD teachers union.

In addition to streamlining the placement of substitutes and lessening the workload burden on administrators, the district has benefited from the reporting capabilities of the system. Today, every stakeholder at the district has a better understanding of where the district stands in terms of absenteeism and substitute hiring. The reporting lets the district validate information, work on compliance, and be increasingly organized.