Classroom teacher numbers in Kansas have been low for sometime, but now districts are starting to feel a shortage of substitute teachers as well.

According to the Kansas State Department of Education, there are 90 elementary school teacher openings in the state and at least 82 vacancies for special education teachers. In addition, 461 teachers “left the profession” after the 2016-17 school year, 93 more teachers who left the profession in 2015-16. There are also 7,481 teachers in Kansas this year who have just one to three years of experience, an increase of 839 over 2016, which contributes to the youthfulness of the state’s teacher workforce.

Where there is a shortage of substitutes, sometimes a principal or a teacher on his or her plan period will need to fill in and loose administrative time.

To handle shortages, USD 418 will now allow anyone with 60 hours of college credit to step in.

Angie McDonald, executive director of elementary education, and Shiloh Vincent, executive director of secondary education, hope the changes will allow more individuals to become licensed to substitute teach and fill more vacancies.

"We're reaching out to people who we normally wouldn't reach out too," McDonald said.

A new program called, AESOP, is assisting the district to find substitutes.

The system allows anyone who is eligible to be a substitute to be specific in where they teach, what they teach and what building they teach in McDonald explained.

“Although with emergency subbing, you could be in a 3-year-old classroom, or you could be in a tech classroom at the high school, you’re eligible for all those things,” she said.

Applications to be a substitute teacher for USD 418 are due by the end of October and the district will reimburse fees for finger printing and licensing.

McDonald and Vincent are hopeful this new system will gain attention and that they will see vacancies go down in the district.

For more information visit their website at http://www.mcpherson.com/ or call the Central Office at 620-241-9400.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.