McDonald County schools attempt to overcome substitute teacher shortage

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PINEVILLE, Mo. — Substitute teachers are hard to come by these days, and one southwest Missouri school district is doing what it can to combat the issue.

Normally, the McDonald County School District has around 60 substitute teachers to choose from.

But with a statewide shortage, it currently only has 20.

So, school principals like Adam Lett of Pineville Elementary has found himself filling in that gap.

“We haven’t been able to get someone that’s able to work a half day because they were being used in another capacity, so I’ve had to fill in, we’ve had a few other staff members that have given up their planned time to be able to cover that teacher,” said Adam Lett – Pineville Elementary Principal.

Although Lett is happy to help out his fellow teachers and students by doing this, he adds it also can create challenges.

“When you’re having to cover a classroom because a teachers not able to come in and you have a sub shortage it does create an imposition because you’re not able to take those phone calls or respond to the needs school wide,” said Lett.

Administrators filling in is one solution — other times, classrooms have jumped from as little as 15 students to as much as 30 to help cover the shortage.

“A couple of times we’ve had to do that, where we’ve had to combine classes and it does make the classroom and the class size a lot bigger than what we would want,” said Ken Shutten – McDonald County Schools Communications and Media Coordinator.

With the shortage, Ken Shutten says now is the best time to make a difference.

“This is an opportunity for you to be able to help grow kids and help them to understand and learn about things, and it’s a great opportunity to get involved,” said Shutten.

To help the issue, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will start a 20-hour online training this fall.

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