Editor’s note: This story is part of a package of reports exploring race- and poverty-based achievement gaps at Dayton Public Schools and how they can be bridged. Read our full report here.
Not having enough teachers has led to a practice DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli vows to reduce: a heavy reliance on substitutes.
“The sub situation in Dayton, I’ve never seen this in my life where you go a whole school year with (so many) subs. That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Lolli said. “(Something) that has occurred in Dayton public schools that I have given the direction will not continue to occur is the fact that we accept that we’re going to have a sub there all year and we’re going to switch them in and out.”
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District data shows Meadowdale High School and Dunbar High School — two of the district’s lowest performing schools — topped all schools for the number of substitute teacher hours. Dunbar used subs more than four times as often as Stivers School for the Arts, which is larger and consistently performs higher than any other DPS school on state tests.
“Some schools on the average are able to retain staff members, so there is a higher retention rate,” DPS spokeswoman Marsha Bonhart said. “That retention rate can often be determined by the length of stay of the building’s administrator and how the building’s culture is developed.”
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The five schools that relied on subs the most had a student population more than 85 percent black. While some majority-minority schools had low sub usage — Valerie Elementary, for example, used fewer subs than all but one other school — most of the 10 schools with the fewest number of subs had a black population of 50 percent or less.
“Young people — students — need teachers who are certified, who show up every day, who are consistent with them,” said Sankara-Jabar.
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Lolli and others said the teacher shortage came about in part because the district previously hired only during the summer months. If a vacancy occurred during the school year, a long-term sub would be called on instead of hiring a full-time replacement.
That practice will end, Lolli said: “We’re going to continue to search to hire highly qualified teachers all year long.”
Last week, the district reported it had filled 97 percent of its teaching slots, with 25 teacher openings available across the district.
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HERE IS A BREAKDOWN OF SUB USAGE FOR EVERY SCHOOL IN THE DISTRICT LAST YEAR (Source: Dayton Public Schools):