House Bill 4118, which would allow retired teachers to substitute an unlimited number of days during the school year, seems to be a logical solution to a problem faced by many of the state's county school boards.
The bill would allow retired teachers to substitute as often as they are needed. Currently, they are restricted to just 100 days per year, despite the fact many counties struggle to find substitutes.
The bill still needs the support of the full House, Senate and Gov. Cecil Underwood to become law, but it appears to have wide support among educators.
"It's a bill that makes a lot of sense," said Barbour County Schools Superintendent John Hager. "It heads off a problem that could continue to get worse over the next five years as the number of new teachers dwindle and more retire."
For Upshur County Schools Superintendent Mary Alice Klein, the bill won't become law fast enough. Her school system already is experiencing great difficulty in finding substitutes and is paying full-time teachers extra to cover classes during their planning periods.
"This is an excellent idea," Klein said. "Even with the measures we've taken, there are days when some classes can't be covered."
Harrison County Schools Superintendent Robert Kittle said the bill will have a major effect on most counties.
"In the past, the cap has been a major factor in the substitute shortage," Kittle said. "It will help us a lot because we have a lot of retired teachers in Harrison County."
We urge our lawmakers to implement HB 4118 as quickly as possible.