Westford Academy faced with a lack of substitute teachers


Substitute Dick Mungovan watches over a DLT in the cafeteria.

John Vassiliou, Online Managing Editor

Due to constraints from the town budget, Westford Academy has cut funding for its substitute program from $45,000 annually, to just $30,000. To compensate for this loss, WA has instituted a new system for how it will administer classes while their teachers are absent.

In previous years, WA’s system for substitutes was relatively simple. If a teacher was absent, the classroom would receive a sub for the day to keep an eye on students and make sure they were all present.

Now that the school is only able to administer roughly two substitutes to a class at any given time, it has now had to instead send the students of those classes to either the cafeteria or PAC for a DLT.

Cynthia Peraner is an administrative assistant who overlooks the new system.

“[So today,] there’s 10 teachers out. So all I do is organize all the kids [to] now go into the DLT during those blocks that we don’t have because we don’t have substitute teachers,” Peraner said.

Other than the immediate problem of addressing which classes go to DLT, Peraner also sorts where the substitutes will go. Classes who have teachers out for only a short duration will usually be sent to a DLT. However, should a teacher be out for an extended period of time, the class will have a substitute to maintain classroom consistency.

However, other than the administrative issue of placing the few remaining subs, new problems lie for the teachers on DLT duty who’ve now been overloaded with extra students who on some days exceed 100 at a time.

“Last week, we had six and a half classes in here, and it took us a good half hour to do attendance and get everyone organized,” Karen St. George said, a music teacher assigned to DLT duty.

Other than the logistical problems of keeping track of students on DLT duty, St. George also has difficulty as a teacher when she is absent for a day. She notes that as a music teacher, some students could be spending the class period practicing their instruments, but instead they have to come down to the cafe, where they are unable to practice using a tool that is only available in the classroom.

“It’s kind of confusing because some of my classes will have a substitute teacher, and some will send us to the cafeteria,” Ryan Pillion, a junior who was sent down without a substitute, said.

Among his other concerns, such as the lack of connectivity to Wi-fi, was the inconsistency of the substitute distribution.

“They should consider either paying all the subs, or don’t pay them at all. Because it’s just confusing to me that if we have a sub in a class [but we don’t have one] in other classes…it’s just annoying,” Pillion said.