Del Mar school district ‘unhappy’ with management of substitute-teacher consortium

The Del Mar Union School District has been proactive about taking steps to resolve a substitute shortage that districts across the state are dealing with, but the district also wants to see some changes in the way its local sub consortium is run.

DMUSD is part of a substitute consortium made up of five school districts: Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas and Cardiff. It is managed by the Encinitas Union School District.

Jason Romero, assistant superintendent of human resources, and Superintendent Holly McClurg were meeting with the consortium last week to discuss management and best practices.

“We are not really happy with the way the substitute consortium is running,” Romero told the board at the Nov. 19 meeting.

Tiffany Kinney, co-president of the Del Mar California Teachers Association, said they appreciate the changes the district has made so far and they hope to have positive results.

One change has been to reduce Cognitively Guided Instruction by 20 percent. Extended Studies Curriculum teachers who work in math instruction will continue with the training, but some other ESC teachers’ training was canceled.

Kinney said the teachers who are missing the training are disappointed and they hope there is some way to recapture the training at a later date.

The district has also created a pool of classified instructors that has put nine additional subs into the mix, which Romero said doesn’t sound like a lot but is actually very helpful.

One of the biggest factors affecting the district’s sub shortage is compensation.

Romero said DMUSD pays “pretty low” compared with other school districts. Neighboring San Diego Unified School District pays $155 a day compared with DMUSD’s $100 per day.

And the gap may get bigger. Romero said Tim Asfazadour, the former assistant superintendent of human resources now holding the same position at San Diego Unified, may propose to the board an increase in substitute pay to $175 an hour.

“We’re in constant competition monetarily,” Romero said. “That’s where we are concerned about management” of the consortium.

Romero said he still believes that DMUSD is an attractive place for subs to work. Since the district is expecting an increase in enrollment because of development in Pacific Highlands Ranch, there might be 25 more teaching positions open over the next five years.

“There’s opportunities for substitutes to gain employment by becoming a part of the consortium,” he said.

That’s a message Romero said they are trying to get out to substitutes.

One former DMUSD substitute has claimed that the district does not hire long-term subs when a permanent position becomes available, instead posting the job on Edjoin and getting thousands of new applicants. She said that this “lack of respect” for long-term subs is one reason why teachers do not want to sub in DMUSD.

In response to the former substitute’s complaint, Romero said the last teacher he hired, a kindergarten teacher at Torrey Hills, was actually one of their long-term subs.

“I can comfortably say that many of our teacher hires come from long-term subs or subs in general, but we also seek the most qualified candidate,” said Romero, who added that next month they plan to bring an item before the board to increase substitute compensation.