Cleveland teachers union hoping substitute teacher problem is solved

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Teachers in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are excited to be starting a new school year but the hope is that at some aspects of last year, as the district readjusted to in person classes once again, will be left behind.

Shari Obrenski, is the Cleveland Teachers Union President and while the group was glad to be back in the classroom there were plenty of challenges first and foremost the lack of substitute teachers that created tension in the system.

“It was an exhausting, unsustainable pace,” Obrenski said.

The lack of substitute teachers was seemingly an issue for just about every district in Northeast Ohio as the pool of subs was not very large and in some cases those teachers just simply were not ready to come back to work following the pandemic.

Without substitutes, teachers in those districts, including in Cleveland, had to fill in the gaps.

“The majority of our folks were missing lunch or planning periods once or twice a week and some of them were missing it almost every day and that’s not sustainable,” Obrenski said.

The Cleveland union surveyed teachers at the end of last school year and found, clearly, the lack of substitutes and the avalanche of problems that ensued, including mental health issues for a number of teachers was at the top of the list of concerns.

And it is not just the teachers who are affected when substitutes are not available, at some point it begins to effect students.

“It is not an ideal situation for teachers it is not an ideal situation for students, it’s very difficult,” Obrenski said.

The good news is that the district has a hiring rate of about 98 percent for regular positions, so there will not be a significant amount of substitutes who will be pulled from the substitute pool to fill in for regular classes.