Teaching Subs Get A Few Extra Bucks

Unionized teachers filling in at city classrooms will get their first raises in three and a half years, according to a contract newly approved by the school board.

The five-year contract, approved by the school board at its regular meeting last week, covers unionized substitute teachers working in New Haven public schools. That’s a very small group: fewer than 10 teachers currently fall into that category, according to New Haven Federation of Teachers (NHFT) Vice President Tom Burns, who negotiated the contract. The group fluctuates significantly as teachers move on to long-term, permanent jobs.

Most of New Haven’s 50-some substitute teachers are not part of the NHFT. They have to work 60 days in a given school year to get in. Joining the union holds one main benefit—a much higher rate of pay.

Non-union teachers make only $53.63 per day, which equates to minimum wage for six-and-a-half hours. (“Horrible,” Burns remarked.)

Teachers who stick with the job can double that daily wage. If they work for 60 days in a single school year, they join the union, qualifying for union-rate pay that year and the subsequent year. Their pay depends on two factors: their level of education and days worked.

Currently, a substitute teacher makes $86.18 per day with a bachelor’s degree and $91.13 per day with a teaching certificate. Teachers who work the same assignment for over 30 days get paid more: $108.93 with a bachelor’s degree and $111.05 with a teaching certificate.

Under the newly approved, substitutes will get an immediate raise—of two to three dollars per day. The rates would climb by a total of 8 to 8.5 percent by the 2014-15 school year, with the top pay grade peaking out at $120.

Burns said while the non-unionized substitute pay falls far below other towns, the union wages are more on par.

“Nobody gets rich being a sub,” he said. But with the new union contract, “we’re very competitive.”

Subs who join the union don’t get medical or retirement benefits. They do get a small number of other perks: If a job opens up for a long-term substitute, unionized subs get first dibs. If they work 45 days in a given position, they get the higher rate of pay, retroactive to when they started. And if they work for 100 days, the school district will reimburse them for up to six credits of college tuition, provided that the classes go towards a teaching certificate or higher degree.

The contract runs from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2015. It includes no retroactive wage hikes for the two-and-a-half years since the last contract expired.

The total additional cost of the contract per year comes out to only about $40,000, according to schools Chief Operating Officer Will Clark.

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