District 204 board president becoming a substitute teacher to draw attention to shortage in the district
Laurie Donahue will be getting a new perspective on the schools in Indian Prairie Unit District 204.
To draw attention to the shortage of substitute teachers while helping plug the holes herself, the District 204 board president announced at Monday's meeting her intention to become a substitute teacher in the state's fourth-largest district that serves Aurora, Bolingbrook, Naperville and Plainfield.
A unanimous vote by her colleagues backed Donahue's decision. The retired senior director in the telecom industry will be allowed to earn up to $1,000 as a sub, and then she'll return to the board to seek approval to continue.
Donahue said the board vote and the $1,000 limit were both needed for conflict of interest concerns that may arise. Her maximum allowance for the entire school year would be $2,000.
"I have heard repeated comments about the need for school bus drivers and for substitute teachers," Donahue said. "We need them every day in our district, and I want to make sure that our students are here every day.
"I'm not a good driver, as some of you have experienced with driving with me," she said with a laugh. "That left, 'Can I do something for substitute teaching?'"
According to District 204 Executive Director of Communication Services Lisa Barry, the district currently has less than 600 substitute teachers. With 2,000 licensed teachers and the desire of a 2-1 ratio with subs, District 204 ideally would have 1,000 substitute teachers.
Substitute teachers are paid $100 a day in District 204, while retired district teachers earn $110 a day. Subs who complete the Guest Teacher Academy requirements earn $10 a day more.
Donahue's colleagues commended her for the decision and the message it sends to the community.
"I know you're retired, and I know you're not doing this for the money," board member Mark Rising said. "You're there to do it to help our school district and our teachers. I just wanted to commend you on that and, hopefully, we get additional people in our community to step up and be a substitute teacher as well."
Donahue didn't say when she'll start. But she said her paperwork is in order.
"Hopefully, it may inspire other people to fill out the paperwork to become a substitute in the district because we need your help," she said.