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Source4Teachers is the right partner for the District

By Kendley Davenport on Nov 18, 2015 04:44 PM

For a number of years, the School District of Philadelphia has been challenged to recruit and place enough substitute teachers to cover its teacher absences. The percentage of classrooms covered by a substitute when a teacher was absent, commonly referred to as “fill rate,” hovered between 50 and 60 percent. 

The District is not alone. Many districts throughout the country have been struggling to develop a large enough pool of substitutes to cover absences. Large urban districts, where teacher absences are noticeably more frequent, tend to be the most challenged. It’s an operational problem that requires considerable effort and resources, and most districts will readily admit they are ill-equipped to tackle the problem without outside help.

Recognizing the need to improve, in July 2015, the School District awarded a contract to Source4Teachers to develop and manage a substitute program that would not only remedy the low fill-rate problem, but also serve as the foundation for a more sustainable long-term solution.

As the leader of Source4Teachers, I want to publicly acknowledge that we have underperformed. We’ve got to do better. We will do better. 

We knew this would be one of the biggest challenges our company has ever faced, but we’re confident that Source4Teachers is the right partner for the District and we’re committed to the development of a successful long-term solution. While it’s sure to take some time, we’re confident in our ability to meet the needs of the District, the community, teachers, parents, and, most important, students.

So what are we doing to ensure that in the upcoming weeks and months the fill rate will improve? Four key strategies.

First, we’ve increased our financial investment in recruiting top talent. You may have seen our advertising across the city. We’re using billboards, transit posters, and print and online ads to get the word out. These campaigns will continue until we’ve reached our goals.  Already, we are seeing an increase in applications.

Second, we’re devoting more personnel resources to manage the increase in applicants. We now have an eight-person team working on site at the School District’s administration building to support the processing of applications, securing credentials, and the hosting of interviews and training sessions.

Third, we’ve decreased the amount of time it takes from application submission to working in a classroom by offering more frequent group interviews and training sessions (both are now conducted daily).

Last, and perhaps most significant, we’ve raised teacher pay rates in a number of areas to bring them closer to – and, in some cases, above – the rates offered by the District last year. 

On Oct. 16, Source4Teachers announced three types of pay rate increases: one for new hires and two for substitutes previously employed by the District. New hires will benefit from increased rates for long-term positions (up to $180 per day, up from $110). Hires with prior District substitute experience will benefit from increases in both daily and long-term pay (up to $160 per day, up from $125 per day; and $200 per day up from $140, respectively).

Although we still have plenty of ground to cover, each new day brings progress and promise. Each week we receive roughly 100 new applications. Each week we hire between 30 and 50 new people; we’ve hired 93 teachers and support staff in the last three weeks alone. 

When we started this process, we contacted the approximately 1,000 prior District substitutes and offered them a position. Although the response rate was low, we’re pleased to report that we now have nearly 1,000 new teachers and 850 support professionals in some phase of the application process. We’re confident that many of them will soon be contributing to the education of the students who need their support. Beyond that, with our system in place and a growing number of teachers in our network, we are setting the stage for a sustained, high fill rate for the long term. 

We want to let everyone interested in public education know that Source4Teachers is fully committed to this partnership and will continue to explore any and all options within our power to deliver the fill rates that we have committed to, that the District and community expect, and that parents and students deserve.

 

Kendley Davenport is the chief executive officer of Source4Teachers.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

 

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Comments (46)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 18, 2015 3:02 pm

Kendley, you'll need a note from your mother saying that your company is the right one for the SDP otherwise it wouldn't be an independent statement.

Submitted by Lisa Haver on November 18, 2015 4:35 pm

What is the fill rate right now, not including those being filled by existing SD personnel?

Submitted by ConcernedRoxParent (not verified) on November 18, 2015 4:25 pm

I read 24% in the Daily News.  Don't know if that is just S4T or them and SDP combined?

Submitted by Lisa Haver on November 18, 2015 5:36 pm

I don't know either.  We know that the district fudged the numbers until they had to admit that to the Daily News.

Mr. Davenport wrote this commentary (or free advertisement) and left that crucial piece of information out, so he has a responsibility to tell us.  He says they are doing better--how much better?

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on November 19, 2015 5:42 am

First of all Lisa, you should be happy to know that Regina Medina and Solomon Leach are still reporting on education for the Daily News. They reported that Tuesday's "fill rate" was 31%. No mention  of how that was computed. The point here is that it is still insufficient for any kind of normal coverage and report cards are not due for the first marking period. 

This is of course all part of the scam to destabilize the system. Did they really expect substitutes to come running when they were offering them Walmart wages? And all the posturing about "running out of patience" was laughable.  The new move is to ask for a "revision" of the contract with S4T.

Meawhile, the time lost to education cannot be recovered. Students do not get a repeat of their growing up. 

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on November 19, 2015 5:53 am

Meant to say: "report cared ARE DUE."

Submitted by Lisa Haver on November 19, 2015 7:59 am

Regina Medina and Solomon Leach are both laid off as of December 4. We are going to lose  both Daily News education reporters.

I'm still waiting for Mr. Davenport to tell us what the fill rate is. 

 

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on November 19, 2015 9:19 am

OOps my mistake, Lisa. Thought the layoffs had already happened. 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 2:35 pm

That is nothing new.  They fudge lots of stuff.  Check out GWHS.  FUDGE!!!

 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 18, 2015 4:08 pm

You are truly serious, aren't you?!!!The title of your insulting piece is incredible!!! As a teacher , having to daily cover classes, and having precious time to spare to do so, you are attempting exactly what here?? To ask for more time to do half of the job you were hired to do? When do you want to tell us when the entire job you were hired to do will actually be done, eh? Maybe next school year?     When growing up, working on the farm, a new hire had little time to prove themselves worthy of employment. If they couldn't or wouldn't keep up with the normal expectations of the job at hand, they were told their presence was not needed anymore. You and your company have not kept up with anywhere near what is /was needed. You have had months to get with the program, and have miserably failed! This is an absolute failure and disgrace what your company has done!!! Or, more correctly stated, NOT done. Never hire a child for an adult's job. Every teacher I know, and there are plenty of  them, are abused daily because of your company's gross failure. Teachers want your kind of child to leave, and allow the chance for adults to fix what you have ruined. You can not do the job at hand. Take what money you have already ripped off from the taxpayers and leave Philadelphia. Take your failure with you. This should have already been accomplished a long time ago. While you are at it, maybe you can offer a ride out to Hite, another loser...

Submitted by Day Trader (not verified) on November 19, 2015 3:41 am

What is the fix?  Pa. is broke with $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.  Only Illinois is in worse shape.  Karen Lewis is warning Chicago teachers to save 25% of their incomes in preparation for a long strike next year.    If you think things are bad now, they won't be getting better because of the bad stock market (where your pension money is invested).  

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 2:36 pm

Oh my...are you saying this is crap.  You are correct!!!  By the way, bathroom breaks have been cancelled...you need to cover the inadequacies of Hite and friends.  Sorry for the inconvemnience but someone has to cover the nonsense and sadly you are the scapegoat.

Submitted by Superintendent (not verified) on November 18, 2015 5:01 pm

I know they will get the job done.  They will continue to have a miserable fail rate so teachers get abused and eventually quit.  It will also help because it will eventually burn out teachers that cover frequently and when scores go down more buildings can be turned into charters.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 18, 2015 5:53 pm

Chicago is having the same problem. This being done deliberately to destabilize public schools further. There is a pattern here.

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=5968&section=Article

 

Submitted by Nasdaq (not verified) on November 19, 2015 3:43 am

Umm... do you really believe that ridiculous union article, that starts with a reference to the "pseudo-crisis" in the city's finances?   Illinois is on the brink of bankruptcy, and it's a phantom crisis?  

Submitted by TeachersLens (not verified) on November 18, 2015 7:43 pm

"Hires with prior District substitute experience will benefit from increases in both daily and long-term pay (up to $160 per day, up from $125 per day; and $200 per day up from $140, respectively).

$160.10 is the old per diem paid by the SDP. Long term subs could make up to $56K, which I believe is more than $200 per day. They are trying to make it seem as though they are doing subs a favor by paying them almost what they were previously paid. 

Submitted by Susan Roe (not verified) on November 19, 2015 8:10 am

Let's add to that...MAYBE more retirees would sign up IF....the district refused to hire the 2010 - 2015 retirees, claiming PSERS said they could not do so. HOWEVER, PSERS always said that if there is a declared emergency, retirees can work per-diem. The district did everything to prevent old retirees from working as well by not posting jobs until 7:30 in the morning! If S4T wants to attract more retirees, MAYBE they should look at that 2010-2015 group and offer them what the rest of us are getting - $160.10 per day. NO it is not what I was earning but better than they were paying. Even better.....offer retirees - ALL retirees $200 per day! It is the least we deserve!

 

Submitted by Annoy (not verified) on November 18, 2015 8:51 pm

Mr. Davenport has  cajones to claim SourcewithoutTeachers has merely "underperformed."  The debacle - created by Wyatt and Rosatti - has destabalized the School District.  It has been the most difficult year to date because of contstant coverage.  "Underperform?"  It has been "slash and burn."

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 18, 2015 8:18 pm

Jim Kenney, get rid of Burns, Rosati and Wyatt and their boss Hite. Thank you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 18, 2015 9:16 pm

I don't understand why more people aren't outraged and calling for the removal of this dangerous trio.  Anyone in the know is aware that these three vile admins are responsible for this and a repeating string of fiascos.  They continue to destroy our schools and hire and promote their own like an unstoppable power hungry gang of crooks.  Burns is so underqualified for her job but i think she's the only one at 440 who doesn't actually realize it.  Mayor Kenney, PUUULLLEEEEZZZEE send Wyatt, Rosati and Burns packing!

Submitted by Day Trader (not verified) on November 19, 2015 3:42 am

People aren't outraged because we support them  We also support the GOP legislature who are pushing for pension reform.   So why is it that teachers aren't outraged by the $2 billion in fees paid to Wall Street banks by their pension fund in 2015?  

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 7:09 am

Unfortunately Kenny has no say in any of those hires.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 7:11 am

Unfortunately Kenny has no say in any of those hires.

Submitted by G (not verified) on November 18, 2015 9:08 pm

Clearly it is time for Hite to give out some more bonuses. After all, his henchmen (and women) are taking on extra stress lately, what with all of the mean criticism they are dealing with simply because they are incompetent.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 12:06 pm

They are a lot bigger than just incompetent. They are grossly incompetent. Give them some credit here.

Submitted by Erica Catlin (not verified) on November 19, 2015 12:56 am

I don't buy it, and I don't see the logic of continuing with Source4Teachers given their continued abysmal performance.  When does cutting pay deliver better results?  While they slowly raise their pay rates to determine the bare lowest that subs will accept, kids and teachers suffer in the schools.   

Submitted by NYSE: MSFT (not verified) on November 19, 2015 3:18 am

Mr. Davenport, thank you for your efforts.  S4T is sincerely appreciated by all taxpayers who want the school district to find cost effective solutions to its staffing needs.  

Submitted by Gloria Endres (not verified) on November 19, 2015 5:36 am

No matter how much it hurts the education of students. Got it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 6:56 am

Please, let us know when his staff arrives at the schools. Any day now right Bill Hite?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 7:32 am

Thanks for sharing your great strategy with us. The best way to get more people to be substitute teachers is obviously to get rid of benefits and pay them less. Anyone can see that that's a brilliant strategy guaranteed to succeed. 

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on November 19, 2015 8:02 am

What is happning is hurting children in the district, was misplaced from its inception, and it is hypocritical for anyone to represent differently. This commentary has no credibility at all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 8:59 am

In case it wasn't clear, I was being completely sarcastic...

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on November 19, 2015 9:53 am

You were clear. I was agreeing with your sarcasm. I do not normally make comments pointing out the hypocrisy of what is being said, but in this instance, it is warranted.   

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 23, 2015 9:02 pm
I was in high school about 15 years ago. Unless substitutes have drastically improved in that time, I cannot believe the school district used to pay these people 56k a year. No wonder they are in the sad financial state they are in now.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 9:23 am

We are in complete agreement then. Hopefully Hite will do the right thing and cancel their contract and this farce will be over. It's not fair to the students, the teachers who have to cover and really anyone who cares about education at all in Philly.

Submitted by Philly Teacher (not verified) on November 19, 2015 12:14 pm

This might be one of the most embarassing stories in American public education right now. There are students who are learning essentially nothing in SDP schools this year because of hiring issues and substitute service ineffeciencies. The foremost blame goes to the District for contracting a pathetic company. Blame should also go to the community of Philadelphia and people of PA for neglecting the District for so many years.

 

Maybe I should leave teaching and propose a contracted service that will "save money for the district"... How about a private food service instead of cafeteria workers that are hired by the District. I promise that my service will feed at least 30% of the students on any given day! It is okay that about 70% of the students will go unfed because we are "fully commited to this partnership"!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 1:13 pm

I'm a teacher with 3 areas of certification. Iwent through source 4 teachers interview and training a month ago. Despite several phone calls and emails I can't find out if I've been hired! Disorganized mess. 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 1:44 pm

"As the leader of Source4Teachers, I want to publicly acknowledge that we have underperformed."

Underperformed?  Don't you mean failed? 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 19, 2015 2:10 pm

Hite isn't sure of the right thing which is obvious since he went Source 4Teachers and claimed he wasn't aware of the teacher shortage which he was dumb enough to say to media.  Wyatt appears to have taken the hit since Hite is not accountable for anything. 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 20, 2015 5:34 am
At our school, many students still have as many as three vacancies. Why aren't parents screaming from the rooftops? It's their childrens' education.
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