ASHLAND — Discussions about substitute teachers became a focus of Ashland County Community Academy’s Wednesday board meeting. 

The board discussed its substitute requirements and approved its pay rate for substitute teachers at the meeting. 

“They’re allowing districts to set personal requirements,” said Shannon Lusk, the superintendent at the academy. 

As of now, the Ohio Department of Education gives out one-year and five-year substitute teaching licenses. The state requires those substitutes to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. 

The state also issues a temporary non-bachelor’s substitute teaching license at the request of school districts. Those licenses are given to people who don’t have a post-secondary degree, but meet other district requirements to serve in the role of a substitute teacher.

All who aim to acquire substitute teaching licenses must pass a background check.

Lusk told the board that Ashland County Community Academy has a contract with Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center. The academy pays $1,500 per year to have that organization vet substitute teachers and ensure they meet the academy’s requirements. 

“I’m not going to drop my standards,” Lusk said. “I don’t want to just hire anyone. It’s got to be a good fit as a sub, and responsibility, have work experience that would show that they’re able to handle and manage different situations and there would be an interview process before I would tell Mid-Ohio yes.” 

Lusk said it’s hard to find substitute teachers with four year degrees at the moment, given a nationwide teacher shortage

Still, she told the board her preference would be to have substitute teachers who have at least some college experience and experience in the workforce. 

“It’s hard for somebody who just graduated from high school. I would have to spend a lot of time training them on our student body and our culture,” Lusk said. 

Nichole Helenthal, the assistant superintendent, agreed. 

“It’s hard for some teachers to come in and teach here even with a college degree,” Helenthal said. 

Once Mid-Ohio receives the qualifications, Lusk said the academy would get a list of names and she would interview them. The board gets to make the final decision about requirements, but members expressed that they agreed with Lusk. They want to start with requirements for two years of college and some relevant work experience. 

In addition to discussing substitute teacher requirements, the board also approved a $100 per day pay rate for substitute teachers at Ashland County Community Academy. And, it approved Sarah Toki to go on the school’s substitute list. 

Beyond substitutes, the board approved its governing policy manual and a Mid-Ohio services contract for a school psychologist for the 2023-2024 year.

Discussions about substitute teacher requirements will continue at the board’s October meeting. The next board meeting takes place Oct. 11 at noon.

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Ashland Source's Report for America corps member. She covers education and workforce development, among other things, for Ashland Source. Thomas comes to Ashland Source from Montana, where she graduated...