By LISA CAPOBIANCO
The Board of Education has approved outsourcing the hiring of substitute teachers.
During a meeting held last Wednesday, the board voted 7 to 0 to approve entering into a one-year contract with Kelly Services for substitute teacher services.
Recently, the board’s personnel committee met with Kelly Services, a national company that handles the hiring of certified teaching staff in schools. In July, Bristol Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ellen Solek recommended signing a contact with Kelly.
Now that the board has approved the contract, current substitute teachers already serving the district would be invited to apply with Kelly Services, said Eileen Candels, vice president and district manager of Kelly Services in the Greater Hartford market.
Candels said the next step involves a preplanning implementation meeting.
“They would be given first consideration,” said Candels. “We’d go through a streamline process so it will be a much shorter version of what we do when we’re bringing in new talent.”
The district began to engage in informal discussions with Kelly Services about a year ago regarding the possibility using its services to better serve students. Administrators and teachers throughout the district have struggled to adequately cover classrooms with well-trained and well-qualified substitute teachers, resulting in an interruption of regular school instruction.
“When you can’t fill subs in your building, it’s just chaos,” said Board of Education Chairman Larry Amara. “The more substitutes we can get for our buildings, the more teaching and learning can take place.”
Kelly Services has served 45 school districts statewide by recruiting, screening, employing, scheduling and managing substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and teacher’s aides in grades K through 12. The largest employer of substitute teachers nationwide, Kelly helps employees by offering technical, payroll and customer service support as well as scheduling flexibility.
Kelly also gives paid training on employment and district policies/procedures, ensuring that employees are prepared on day one. Once a substitute is hired, Kelly Services continues open communication with the district to receive feedback on his or her performance in the classroom.
Solek said she was happy to see that Kelly Services provides training around competencies in safety in the classroom as well as highly trained substitutes who are ready to “hit the ground running.”
“It really is a value at its service for Bristol Public Schools,” said Solek. “I think our current substitute pool in Bristol will be very excited with the training opportunities and growth opportunities that come along with Kelly Services.”
Kelly Services not only conducts a one-on-one behavioral interview with candidates, but also runs a criminal background screening. Before a candidate ever works one day in the district as a substitute teacher, he or she must pass Kelly’s criminal background screening. The company also conducts a National Sex Offenders Registration check on every candidate before he or she even steps inside the classroom.
“After they’ve completed the hiring process, we run a screen on them that we absorb the cost of,” said Candels.
In 2014-2015, substitute expenditures in Bristol Public Schools were $738,937. If the board decided not to pursue a contract with Kelly Services, that cost was projected to be $750,000 for 2015-2016.
Solek has noted cost-saving opportunities for the district by working with Kelly even though substitute expenditures would be projected at $784,000. Currently, the district prepares payroll, reallocates staff, pays FICA, Medicare, and other costs for long-term substitute teachers who work 38 hours or more weekly. The district also manages a software company that helps schedule substitutes during the year. Working with Kelly Services would bring the district’s net benefit of $72,373 per year.
By LISA CAPOBIANCO