After airing gripes, Athens seeing improvements with sub service

Athens Superintendent Craig Stage updates the school board on progress with Employment Staffing Solutions Monday.

ATHENS — A little more than two months after Athens Superintendent Craig Stage warned that contracted substitute service Employment Staffing Solutions had 90 days to improve, he said Monday that improvement has been taking place.

Stage first brought the issue to light during a school board meeting in October, saying the service’s “terrible fill rate” had left the school district in need on several occasions. In November, he reported that the company was planning to make some wholesale changes.

From Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, the school district’s fill rate was 56%, he referenced, adding,“Of 908 absences, we were only able to fill 512 of those.” The fill rate increased by more than 10% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 20. Since the start of the New Year until last Friday, Stage said they filled 78% of absences, or 113 of 145 absences.

“We started with only two building-based subs in October. We now have eight in place,” Stage continued. “ ...We are in the pipeline to hire five additional sub teachers and two additional sub para’s (paraprofessionals) by the end of next week.”

Stage said ESS now has a new team to serve the school district’s needs, including a dedicated recruiter that comes to the district every two weeks, an applicant specialist, and new regional manager.

“I do think this is a marked improvement, we still have a long way to go,” said Stage. “I’m very thankful that they own that and are working very diligently to improve.”

Meanwhile, the school district has been doing its part to reduce the need for substitutes through a wellness program designed to improve the physical and mental health of the district’s teachers and support staff, Stage noted.

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