Board discusses substitute pay, need for wrestling room

by Laura Bednar

Aug. 16 board of education meeting

The Independence Board of Education discussed pay for substitute teachers before tabling a resolution to increase compensation for certified substitutes from $100 to $110 a day.

Certified substitutes require teaching credentials; classified substitutes do not need certification or a license.

Superintendent Ben Hegedish said the board wanted to address rates amid employee shortages and cost of living increases. He said the district had 1,000 units of “subbage” last year, with one unit equaling one substitute for one day, excluding long-term subs.

Independence High School math teacher Darlene Stefanski said during public participation that subs should be paid more. “I would go $125,” she said.

For classified subs such as cafeteria workers, secretaries, bus drivers and custodians, the district took the base hourly rate for “Level 1” employees, which is negotiated with the Union, and multiplied it by 85% for a sub who has worked in the district for one to five years. Those who worked in the district longer could see a 90-95% multiplication of the base rate. The pay ranges from $14-$21 per hour, depending on the position.

Board member Carrie Sears suggested giving a bonus to teachers who only substitute within the Independence school district.

Hegedish said when the district hires a long-term sub that teaches for 60 days or more, the teacher receives $250 a day.

Wrestling room

During public participation, resident Mike Meyer asked if there was a plan to find or build a wrestling room for the wrestling team.

“Five-plus years without a wrestling room, I think, is unfair to these kids,” said Meyer.

He said several prospects in youth wrestling might leave for other districts due to lack of a wrestling facility.

“Our high school was not designed with adequate wrestling and weight-training facilities,” said Hegedish.

Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling said there were plans to create a performance center with adequate wrestling space, but they were put on hold after realizing the full cost and a failed bond issue. He said the pandemic also put the idea on hold because the wrestling room at the high school was used as a weight room where social distancing could be practiced.

Dreiling said the wrestling team has too many athletes to hold practice in the wrestling space, and that practice has been held in the middle school cafeteria and Independence Fieldhouse.

He said by the end of the year, the district should have a rough idea of whether it can design and find a location for a new facility. He said money would not be available for a project of this size until 2024.  

College courses

The school district partnered with Lorain County Community College to offer a college-level English composition course for high school students. Hegedish said this is one of three courses that will be offered for college credit, in addition to environmental science and government. Independence teachers will teach the classes at the high school. ∞