ATLANTIC CITY — Teachers have not yet arrived for the first day of school, but Wes Wallace is already thinking about hiring substitutes.
Wallace is district manager for Source4Teachers, which this year will take over providing substitutes in Atlantic City and Pleasantville schools. The school boards approved out-sourcing for substitutes as a way to save money and recruit from a larger pool of people.
Managing subs is no small feat. Atlantic City has almost 14,000 sub placements a year, or about 78 a day, costing the district more than $1.8 million, according to the Source4Teachers’ proposal. The company estimates it will save the district more than $520,000 over three years.
Wallace was at the Martin Luther King School on Monday getting the district’s current subs transferred over to the Source4Teachers system and payroll. The company is also hiring new subs, and plans recruitment efforts at job fairs and local colleges, including Stockton and Atlantic Cape Community College.
Founded about 15 years ago, the company now serves 250 school districts in eight states, including about 115 in New Jersey. Locally Egg Harbor City, Mullica Township, Bridgeton, Cumberland Regional and the Atlantic City and Compass Academy charter schools use the company to provide its substitutes.
Wallace said teachers are recruited for specific districts, but can work in multiple districts. The company’s online system allows teachers to sign up for specific schools and grades, and also allows schools to request specific subs. The company can also provide substitute aides and school nurses.
Wallace said a major benefit for substitutes and students is that subs can work a full-time schedule of five days a week since they are employed by Source4Teachers and not by the districts. They also have access to a 401K plan and health insurance benefits not available to part-time district subs.
Tom Forkin, a former Atlantic City teacher who lost his job in the layoffs two years ago and spent last year as a substitute, said being able to work five days a week will give students greater consistency, especially if a teacher is out for a few weeks. Last year he could only work four days a week, then another sub would have to come in.
“I would come in, and students would ask me which day I was taking off that week,” he said. “Students need consistency, and if this gives it to them then I support it.”
Large districts like Atlantic City can struggle to keep enough substitutes to cover all openings. Source4Teachers vice president for marketing Owen Murphy said individual districts don’t have the manpower or budgets to actively recruit.
Pat Bishop, a retired Toms River teacher, started substituting in Atlantic City High School last year and will be back this year, as will math teacher Joseph Cox. Both said they enjoy teaching at the diverse high school, but agreed that it can be a struggle to fill all sub positions.
“I don’t really need to work, but I still enjoy it,” Bishop said.
Wallace said with the Taj Mahal scheduled to close, he will recruit qualified casino workers who are interested in teaching.
“Substituting is a good way for them to see if they might like teaching as a career,” he said. He said the company will help them get their substitute certifications from the state.
The current requirements for a substitute include having at least 60 college credits, passing a criminal background check and getting a TB test done.
Districts set their own pay rate, though Wallace said most are in the same range. Atlantic City’s is $85 per day for people with the substitute certificate, $95 per day for a sub with a four-year college degree. Long-term leave replacement teachers are paid $125 a day.
IF YOU GO: Source4Teachers will also be recruiting at the Martin Luther King School Complex in Atlantic City from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday. More information is also online at source4teachers.com