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APS to transfer all substitute teachers to a temp agency

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Public Schools’ 1,100 substitute teachers will soon no longer work for APS.

They will be employees of Kelly Services, a temporary staffing agency headquartered in Michigan with offices in Albuquerque.

Changes in the Education Retirement Board regulations are a major reason for the district to switch its subs to a temporary staffing service.

“This is a big issue for us, and that was a big driver in doing this,” Todd Torgerson, chief of Human Resources and Legal Services, said about the ERB changes. “A lot of our retirees want to come back. They’ve spent 30, 20 years teaching, they love teaching, they love the kids. They want to set their own schedule and this would preclude that.”

As it is, APS already faces a substitute shortage. It can fill an average 72% of teacher absences on any given day.

And approximately 9% of APS subs are retirees whom the ERB shifts would affect, according to APS.

Torgerson said the district’s pool of about 1,100 subs needs to be closer to 2,000 to meet demands, adding that the district has an average of 685 daily teacher absences that need to be filled.

The district hopes that going the temp service route will boost those numbers. To get there, the district put out a request for proposals for substitute teacher and substitute educational assistant temporary staffing services, which was awarded to Kelly Services.

Torgerson is hoping Kelly’s expertise in recruitment and its ability to offer incentives, such as benefits and bonuses, will get more subs into APS classrooms.

The move was approved by the Board of Education on July 17.

“Our 1,100 subs will be transitioned to Kellys,” Torgerson said.

He said this is the first time the district is moving forward with a temporary staff agency for subs.

“There have been proposals, but it has not been something the board has taken action on, that’s my understanding,” he said.

While Torgerson said the employees will receive the same hourly wage under Kelly Services, the temporary staffing agency will provide insurance and benefits packages, which the district doesn’t have for subs.

Substitute teachers earn between $13 and $18 an hour, according to Torgerson. He added that the agency will require the same credentials subs have to have now, including a background check and the proper licenses.

But those teachers won’t have to contribute to the retirement fund, he said.

New regulations are limiting the number of hours retired teachers can substitute without first taking a year off from the classroom. The changes will also require more of them to contribute to the ERB.

“At the beginning of this year, we upped our substitute (pay) rates … but with this new ERB change, they are essentially going to take a big pay cut because of the contributions,” he said.

“(Under Kelly Services) they won’t have to contribute to the ERB, and they will have other benefits available to them they currently do not have,” he added.

The details of the contract with Kelly Services was still being finalized as of Thursday. The estimated annual spent is $9.6 million from operational and other funds budgeted for substitute services, according to APS documents.