Following the testimony of four substitute teachers who said their pay is too low, Palo Alto School Superintendent Kevin Skelly Tuesday said he plans to formally propose a pay raise for substitute teachers later this month.
The four substitutes spoke in the open forum section of Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, telling members that pay of $135 a day for unsteady and unpredictable work was not sufficient.
Mary Baker, who's been subbing in Palo Alto for 23 years, said she's been asked to teach everything from Japanese to industrial arts and stringed instruments, "when I don't read a note."
Baker, who said she was credentialed to teach elementary school, middle school, German and Spanish, said last year she had to cancel three of the credentials "because it was too expensive and I only needed one to substitute, so I saved some money."
Longtime substitute Sonia Kantor, who holds a teaching credential in biology, said subs get little training in the classroom technology they're expected to use.
"This week I had to show a program on the Smartboard," Kantor said. "The teacher had set it up on her computer but she didn't plug it in so it ran out of steam in the middle of the day, so we had to go to Plan B, but there was no Plan B."
Kantor said she improved by discussing information and questions from the textbook and "it worked out fine."
But, she said, "At $135 a day that's a lot to ask of people. We are all highly skilled and we try hard to do a particularly good job. Also, there's a lot of mainstreaming of a variety of children in the classroom now and we're not given training.
"We don't have an advocate particularly for us and we don't have a union."
When she began subbing in the early 1990s, "Palo Alto had top pay and plentiful subs," Baker said. "Now we have a shortage. It's time to right this wrong and pay substitutes a fair amount and, in so doing, attract more substitutes which are badly needed."
The board did not discuss the comments, but Skelly indicated that a proposal for a raise will be forthcoming.