New substitute solution adds features for teachers

A new substitute employee platform brought back memories of how finding a substitute used to happen. Recently, about 250 substitute teachers gathered at Lincoln East High School for their annual orientation and training sessions on various topics.

Prior to 2002, a staff member needing a substitute called a phone number and left a voicemail with key information. District office staff - three employees in the morning and two in the afternoon - would listen to the voicemails and enter all the information into another computer system and go to work in finding subs.

Then in 2002, when LPS switched to SubFinder - the most recent substitute platform - one new ‘cutting-edge’ feature was when the automated computer system would suggest a substitute to call based on the the length of time, the subject area and the school.

Also cutting edge in 2002, SubFinder required a touchtone phone, but not a computer to accept sub requests.

“I have since removed the language ‘touch tone’ because it was confusing the college students,” said Darbi Umholtz, who works with the substitute teacher process for LPS.

Now LPS will launch SmartFind an absence management and substitute placement system.

This change is nothing like the big change that occurred in 2002 as the old solution used some newer technology. And it is possible to use a traditional phone to enter information, but perhaps easier online.

(All staff members, full-time, part-time and substitutes will need to setup their account. More information will be shared with staff members via their LPS email.)

SmartFind allows more precise options for substitutes:

  • Establish a regular schedule of days/times you are able to sub;
  • More easily set times for when you are unavailable (vacation, sickness, etc.);
  • Create a do-not-call schedule (blocking calls during inconvenient times or during other scheduled activities);
  • To pick up an open spot if a staff member couldn’t teach in the afternoon because they became ill or hurt during the school day;
  • Receive an email reminder the day prior to your scheduled assignment.

Subs are still able to list the subject areas (called classifications) and locations that they wish to to teach.

Full-time teachers needing a sub still have the option to request a specific substitute teacher - perhaps a sub they are familiar with based on past experience. Then the automated calling system looks for subs who are certified in that specific subject area. Finally, it will contact local subs available for that school.

Therefore, the system gives preference to those substitute teachers certified in the specific subject area where a substitute is requested.

The SmartFind system also allows staff members to request absences for multiple, non-consecutive days, within one week - and subs can accept those assignments in group, as one job. For example, an absence can be entered for Monday, Wednesday and Friday of a week, and the sub will receive the request as one, three-day job.  In the past, the substitute would receive three separate phone calls, one for each of the days requested.


Published: August 1, 2016, Updated: August 1, 2016