Sub Shortage Forces Inequity In Pay

Instructional+aides+are+an+integral+part+of+the+education+system%2C+providing+support+to+both+students+and+staff.

©The Talon News | Cate Clarke

Instructional aides are an integral part of the education system, providing support to both students and staff.

Ashley Henderson, Editor

To combat the substitute shortage caused by COVID-19, Argyle and other school districts across Texas raised the substitute salary in 2021. 

While the salary raise has encouraged an increase in substitutes, the district has neglected to also give full-time instructional aides an increase in pay. Now, instructional aides are the school’s lowest-paid employees. The job requirements of these instructional aides vary from learning and remodifying curriculum for visually impaired or Spanish speaking students or acting as an inclusion aide for students in need.

“The problem isn’t [that] the sub pay was raised,” source one said. “I think the problem is that the aides are staying the same when we are full time, 24/7, their [the school’s] right hand. We’re like the bottom of the totem pole.”

According to district administration, $12.44 is the starting pay for aides with no experience. However, all other full-time employees are paid more, along with substitutes who make more working for a few days than an aide would in a month. According to aides, they are often expected to act as substitutes in free periods without receiving the supplemental pay that a teacher would for subbing during their conference period.

“That makes the other departments feel a little more necessary and an aide position to appear nonessential, which is not the case,” source two said. “That’s what it appears like when you pay nutrition, [bus drivers], and substitutes more—that they are a more intricate part or more important on a day-to-day than an aide.”

Despite the overall pay gap, instructional aides benefit from the dispersal of their pay throughout the three months of summer, and they have a more flexible work schedule. Other job opportunities may be financially better, but most aides are passionate about their role and believe what they do adds value to the school.

An Instructional aide works with students in a class acting as an integral part of the education system. (©The Talon News | Cate Clark)

“For me, while the sub pay sounds nice, I really value a day-to-day relationship with the kids more than I would just being in a classroom with people that don’t know me,” source two said.

When beginning an aide position, there is a lack of guidance for an individual’s role and knowledge of their assigned students. New and experienced employees believe professional training and an overall job layout seem necessary in addition to raising the salary.

“If you’re going to give raises to any department, there should be something laid out across the board with all positions,” source one said. “I’m not saying we all deserve equal pay because we all do different things, but if you’re going to raise all the other departments and then leave one out, that’s wrong.”

For these employees, the solution is clear. However, without official representation, sources fear losing their jobs if they speak out against wage inconsistencies.

“I don’t feel like we have a voice period,” source one said. “The only person who would speak up for me would I guess be the teacher that I work with directly, but other than that there’s nobody. Most of us have no idea who we directly report to.”

In addition to the job’s expectations, limited guidelines, and lower pay, the district’s lack of response causes the constant rehiring for aide positions. With the more recent substitute pay raise, more aides consider leaving.

“[The district] just completely ignores the whole situation instead of just addressing something,” source one said. “Like say, hey we realize we gave this, but we hope to do this for the following school year so that maybe you won’t have people who want to leave.”

According to Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright and Deputy Superintendent Chris Daniels, there are plans to make a recommendation to the AISD board to increase instructional aide pay for the 2022-23 school year.

“My thoughts on this include a deep appreciation of the value of both positions at the state and local levels,” Wright said. “The school districts need both desperately to function effectively.”

In speaking out, employees hope to emphasize the impact of instructional aides and work toward the improvement of the job.

“Instructional aides are necessary,” source three said. “It’s a good position to have if you’re not certified as a teacher to come in and get a feel of the school and the students. I think it’s a lot harder than what I thought it was but overall it’s a great position. It just needs a little bit of tweaking in order to get it polished.”

Overall, employees simply urge the district to acknowledge their concerns and requests.

“It was not a job I took for the pay,” source two said. “However, what I find that is required in me, is worth an increase in pay to show that I’m valuable and that it’s important that I be here to get quality people in classrooms working with the children. Show us we’re important.”

 

Argyle ISD Substitute Pay Scale

Non-Degreed 
Daily Rate $90
Degreed 
Daily Rate $95
Texas Certified Teacher
Daily Rate $100
Long Term Rate $125
Registered Nurse
Daily Rate $125
Paraprofessional
Daily Rate $85
(source: argyleisd.com)