LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Education Secretary Johnny Key approved a request to raise substitute teacher pay to $180 per day in the event of a strike in the Little Rock School District.
The not-so-subtle request came from Superintendent Michael Poore as anger continues to build among teachers and their supporters. Members of the Little Rock Education Association will loose their collective bargaining rights Oct. 31.
Key and the Arkansas Board of Education are in the waning months of controlling the 40-school district after taking over in 2015 with six schools in academic distress.
Union officials have offered no comment on strike plans and made no statements after the approval of the substitute pay hike.
"Secretary Key did approve Superintendent Poore's request to pay substitute teachers $180 a day in the event there is a work stoppage," said Kimberly Mundell, the spokesperson for the Dept. of Education. "We want to say that we do expect Little Rock School District's schools to remain open, and that schools cannot meet the education needs of students if the doors are closed."
The LRSD works with the placement agency WillSub to fill-in temporary vacancies.
Those without degrees usually get $70 per day, certified subs get $80, and a long-term substitute who stays on the job for more than three weeks gets $90 per day.
If there's a strike, the rate doubles that highest figure, and substitutes would be eligible as early as the second day of any emergency period.
"While we hope that there's not a strike or a sick out or any kind of a work stoppage, Superintendent Poore and the Little Rock School District must be prepared in the event that one does occur," Mundell said.
The district is also preparing to pay for background checks and expedited licensing in the event of a strike.
"Non-essential" administration workers have also been told to prepare to fill-in and warned that some could be fired if they refuse to cross picket lines.