CABOT, Ark. — School districts across Arkansas are struggling to find enough substitute teachers. Cabot School District officials hope new incentives approved by the school board will help them attract and retain subs.
"Right now, we are the only district in the state offering something like this," Leila Seigrist, the school district's director of human resources and legal affairs, said.
Starting in January, new and existing substitutes have the opportunity to receive hundreds of dollars in bonuses.
"We first want to be able to pull in new substitute teachers, and one of the obstacles that we heard about was that sometimes it's hard for potential new subs to come up with that background check fee," Seigrist said.
New substitutes who work 10 days for Cabot will have that $50 fee reimbursed.
In addition, new and existing substitutes will get an extra $50 for each full week they work during the spring 2022 semester.
With each of those bonuses, their name will go in a hat, and the district will hold a $500 prize drawing at the end of each quarter.
"If you're a very, very lucky person that works every single day in the Cabot School District next semester, you have the potential to get $2,000 extra," Seigrist said.
Without factoring in the drawings, substitutes still have the potential to make upward of an additional $900 during the semester.
Joy Rogers is in her sixth year as a substitute teacher in Cabot.
"I taught kindergarten in Little Rock for four years before my children were born," she said. "Once my children started elementary, I just missed it and wanted to get back into teaching."
She loves the flexibility that comes with subbing, and she loves the students even more.
"It is always rewarding," Rogers said. "I love to share their excitement when they do well. And I love to help them grow and help them believe in themselves when they need that encouragement to keep learning."
For Rogers, the new financial incentives are an added reward for a job that already brings her fulfillment.
"I'm really excited about the new people that will come to Cabot for this and just more people to enrich the lives of all the children here. It'll be great for the district," she said.
Pay for Cabot substitute teachers starts at approximately $90 per day.