Roebuck introduces bipartisan bill to provide more substitute teachers

HARRISBURG, April 14 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, has introduced a bill (H.B. 1989) designed to increase the number of available substitute teachers in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.

"I'm pleased my bill already has bipartisan support. This legislation would allow retired teachers to return to the classroom to serve as day-to-day or long-term substitutes for up to 90 days without interruption of their state retirement benefit. This legislation would mirror current law that allows retired state employees to return to service for a certain period of time without affecting their state retirement benefits," Roebuck said.

"Substitute teachers play a vital role in maintaining momentum and continuity in the classroom. When students’ regularly assigned teachers are unavailable due to illness, hiring shortages, or professional development needs, substitute teachers help fill in the gaps so student learning is not interrupted.

"When substitutes are not available, many schools rely on other teachers to fill in during their prep periods – time that should be dedicated to thoughtful planning, professional collaboration or other academic preparation. When neither substitutes nor a teacher on a prep period are available, students must do without a teacher in their classroom for a day, a week or even longer. Without a pool of consistently available, qualified substitutes, schools can become caught in a frenetic – and expensive – game of catch-up throughout the year and students pay the price," he said.

Roebuck's bill has been referred to the House Education Committee for consideration.

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