Providing Substitutes from Two Sources

Published on Feb. 26 2020


ESS controls our substitute system, but teachers still have to contribute.

By Nanda Bean

Teachers at AHS take turns getting called to substitute a class that is in need to be taken care of. A typical day for a teacher who has to be a substitute during their prep period is unbalanced, making the day feel longer and preventing a teacher to prepare a lesson for the next day, catch up on emails, and correct quizzes. During the first six weeks of school, English Teacher Mark Giller sometimes got called on once a week, to be a substitute for a certain class, which frustrates him since he is unable to use his prep time to correct papers or create the new lesson plan.


“It really makes the day longer, and it really makes you miss out on key planning time,” Giller said. According to Office Manager Donna Fuller, five to seven substitute teachers are needed at AHS every single day. These substitute teachers come from ESS (Education Solution Services), a company that manages our substitute shortage and are in charge of hiring and receiving substitute teachers for the district.


“It’s an outside company that basically recruits and ensigns subs from their entity. They’re not San Lorenzo Unified School District related,” Fuller said. “The company has taken over the sub system and required that anyone who was working in the San Lorenzo Unified School District to become a part of the ESS system. Why, I do not know, but this is what they’ve done. So they basically taken all of our subs and put them all in one pool and they pass them out as they see fit.”


Absence Control Specialist Alexis Neideffer adds that even though substitute teachers are under ESS now. It doesn’t affect them in any way, and they still work and teach in the same schools, they have worked with before.


“The substitute teachers themselves are the same people who used to work for the district along with a few others who were on boarded more recently) When we contracted with ESS, those subs were on boarded with them,” Neideffer said. 


This situation leads to frustration towards Fuller as well because she points out that we do not pay enough of our substitute teachers, which is why we do not have enough in the district. This impacts her because sometimes things do not run smoothly as expected when fuller asks her fellow colleagues to “go places.”


“There’s not enough subs in every school in the district. We have a shortage of subs going on right now, and I believe that it’s because we don’t pay our subs the top money,” Fuller said. “It impacts me because I ask people to go places and they either forget; sometimes, they forget and don’t go to the class; sometimes, they’re not on time; sometimes they move slower than other people; and sometimes, it’s just as simple,” Fuller said.


Giller, who feels overworked when he is asked to substitute a class because he can not get work done and has to spend his own time to catch up with his workload.


“It adds on to your additional duties, you know you teach five periods, and then you get one more period, so I would say ever ytime you feel overworked because you miss out on your prep period and then you have to make that hour up, so it’s always like adding on extra work,” Giller said.


Although he is aware that, his frustration and anger is at the problem itself and at the district and not at the people who are doing their job. He always thinks about how could this issue continues to happen and how can we fix the system.


Out of all the troubles the school and the district have to go through, to hire substitutes and regular teachers to give students a qualified adult to facilitate and teach their class. This goes to show that it is part of a bigger issue of expensive housing is leading to teacher shortage. It is still a national issue that we have a teacher shortage, especially in California, where a huge factor to why, is because it is expensive to live in this state, especially around the Bay Area. Neideffer believes the best way to resolve this  problem, is if we vote to fund public schools since teachers working in public schools are government workers.


“The reality of the situation is that less and less people are becoming teachers and substitute teachers because it is getting increasingly expensive to live in California, and teachers' wages are notoriously low. The best thing anyone can do to help solve this issue, because public school teachers are government employees is to vote to fund the public school system,” Neideffer said. •

On Subbing

Two teachers weigh in on the current substitute shortage.

Photos | Nanda Bean

“It is an opportunity for me to help out a colleague in need though it is frustrating that we still are unable to fill classrooms with qualified substitutes.”

- Social Studies Teacher Andrew Eckloff said

“Well, it’s frustrating; I would like the district office and the people in charge of hiring subs...hire more subs.”

- English Teacher Mark Giller said

Photos | Nanda Bean