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Struggling to attract substitute teachers, Wisconsin school district now paying $200 a day

Sauk Prairie School District is paying their subs $200 per day. But, there's a catch.
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Posted at 6:10 AM, Nov 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 08:33:08-05

PRAIRIE DU SAC — In our Two Americas series, we are going to Sauk Prairie School District, where a shortage of bus drivers is not their only headache. Substitute teachers are also hard to come by.

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A normal substitute teacher in the Sauk Prairie School District makes about $115 a day. But it was still hard to fill in this rural area. Now the district is paying nearly 50 percent more for those willing to be there five days a week.

We spoke to substitute teacher Paul Fugere about the boost in pay.

“To get that boost to $200 a day, was that a great incentive?” asked TMJ4 News’ Julia Fello. Fugere answered, “Yes, but being here every day, that meant more.”

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Fugere is a retired teacher. He says he lasted just a couple of years away from the classroom before he missed it.

“I like to tell jokes,” said Fugere, adding, “Break the ice a little bit and for them to forget whats going on outside.”

Outside is the pandemic, which turned our world upside down. With so many teachers getting quarantined last year, Superintendent Jeff Wright was one of the first districts to think of a long-term substitute teacher plan.

“The formula has worked,” said Jeff Wright, Sauk Prairie School Superintendent.

Fugere said, “There maybe were 5 days for the entire school year where I covered a study hall that was it.”

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There is still a need for subs willing to work one or two days a week. Wright says the district went to rural churches and parent groups across Sauk County to recruit people, “We’ve been able to add a few people to the list by trying to be creative but it certainly a continuing struggle.”

The hope is for more people to step up, and know they are making a difference for our community’s next generation.

The money to pay for the long-term sub salary increase was paid for with federal pandemic relief fund money.

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