Schools

C’ville boosts sub teacher pay, bus driver sign-on bonuses

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Crawfordsville Community School Corp. is raising substitute teacher pay and offering a higher sign-on bonus to bus drivers in response to critical staffing shortages.

“Just like most of the world, we’re off and running understaffed in a lot of our support areas,” assistant superintendent Dr. Rex Ryker told school board members on Thursday.

The lack of available substitutes has left CCSC, like other schools nationwide, relying more on aides and assistants to cover classrooms multiple times a week. An additional 10 to 12 substitutes working a couple times a week, the district says, would help better manage vacancies.

And while there’s just one vacancy among bus drivers, the district is seeking a few more to serve as substitutes and cover extra-curricular events.

The pay for substitute teachers will increase by $15 to $95 per day, while the daily rate for substitute assistants will go up by $10 to $75. The driver sign-on bonus, which drivers who already have a commercial driver’s license earn after six months, will double to $500. The board approved the changes.

It’s the first pay increase for substitute staff in about six years, making Crawfordsville the highest-paying school system for fill-in workers in the county, according to the district.

As an additional perk for transportation workers, the board approved a request to open the district’s wellness clinic to non-full time CDL drivers, who aren’t eligible for school health insurance. The change requires approval from the county’s medical care trust board.

In other business, the school board approved next year’s $32.6 million budget, which is up about $400,000 over last year due to the high school renovation project, superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling said.

Bowling also presented the latest enrollment figures, which are down slightly from last year.

The district counted 2,396 students as of Sept. 17, a decrease of 22 students. Enrollment hit an all-time high of 2,489 in 2019-20.

“We were due for some reversion to the mean,” Bowling said.

The dip in the headcount is part of a nationwide trend, with experts looking at how much the migration to private or online schools and homeschooling plays a role. Bowling said the drop isn’t significant enough to warrant teacher cuts or program changes.

“We can weather this, just we definitely don’t want to see it go down from here,” Bowling said. “The dropping needs to stop.”

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