School secretaries across McDuffie County breathed a collective sigh of relief after Thursday's Board of Education Meeting. The board approved the purchase of AESOP, an automated system to locate substitute teachers.
When a teacher is sick or unable to come to work, that teacher will call the system number and request a substitute.
AESOP will be preset by a system administrator to prioritize substitutes according to degree held and teacher recommendations. The substitutes who are called will be able to accept or reject a job by pushing the corresponding button on the phone.
AESOP will also have a web component in which substitutes can look on a website to find available jobs. Teachers will still be required to inform their administrators of upcoming absences, but most agree the new system will eliminate many of the problems that are presented by the current method in which substitutes are called.
"It would be a total God-send," said Maxwell Elementary Secretary Julie Plunkett who is responsible for calling subs during school hours. "It will certainly take a few stress lines out of our faces."
According to Mrs. Plunkett, upwards of 12 calls are made in attempting to locate a substitute. She said that sometimes that many calls may not even be enough to secure a sub.
Another problem that school officials have been faced with is many subs who have already accepted a job may be called by several different schools.
"With seven different schools needing substitutes, frequently a person who is a substitute may be called at 6 o'clock in the morning by seven different people," said McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools Ed Grisham. "If you're the one doing the calling, you may call through 20 people before you get to one that's available to substitute. This system takes out a lot of that difficulty."
AESOP, which will cost the school system $32,085 over three years, will be funded by the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Since it has been approved by the board, the tentative start date for AESOP will be Feb. 1.