Simplified: The Sioux Falls school board is asking the state to waive its rule requiring long-term substitute teachers to have a South Dakota teaching license because it can't find enough people with licenses to fill those substitute jobs.

Why it matters

  • While requesting waivers from administrative rules is a relatively common practice, this is the first time the district is requesting a waiver related to long-term substitutes, Human Resources Director Becky Dorman told school board members Monday. Dorman also noted that the rule itself is new.
  • School Board President Cynthia Mickelson said this is just another indicator of workforce challenges facing the school district.
  • In addition to the substitute waiver, the district is also seeing an uptick in the need for waivers allowing teachers who haven't yet completed certification to start teaching anyway on the promise they'll be certified within two years. These waivers are often called "plans of intent."
"In the past couple years we've had a spike in the total number of plans of intent," Dorman told board members Monday.

What's the rule the state needs a waiver for?

State administrative rules (linked here) say long-term substitutes – defined as someone teaching more than 45 cumulative days – should have a teaching license.

  • But Dorman said the district just doesn't have that many licensed teachers in it's long-term substitute pool. Many of the licensed subs are retired teachers who aren't looking to pick up a long-term assignment.

What's the scope of this?

During the first semester of the current school year, the Sioux Falls School District employed 11 long-term substitutes who taught more than 45 days and who didn't have a valid South Dakota teaching certificate.

What happens next?

The board unanimously voted to apply for the waivers, which now move on to the state for approval.