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May 20, 2016

Philadelphia School District hires new substitute staffing firm

Education Substitute Teachers
School District of Philadelphia headquarters Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The School District of Philadelphia headquarters on North Broad Street.

The School District of Philadelphia, looking to improve the quantity and quality of its substitute teachers, has hired a new staffing vendor.

On Thursday, the School Reform Commission authorized the district to hire Kelly Educational Staffing to provide substitutes for teachers and other school support staff, starting with the new school year beginning in September. The $42-million contract runs through the 2017-2018 school year.

Related story: Philly school district looks to outsource substitute teachers

The contract will end the relationship with Source4Teachers, a Cherry Hill-based education management firm, which the district has said failed to increase the staffing rate in hundreds of empty classrooms daily due to absences by teachers. District officials have said they are looking to improve the fill rate to 90 percent.

“We are committed to resolving the long-standing substitute staffing challenges facing our schools,” said Superintendent William R. Hite in a statement. “After reviewing various solutions, we have determined that Kelly Educational Staffing is the clear choice to provide us with reliable and consistent staff when absences arise.”

The annual cost of the current substitute system is $18.6 million, so the cost of the new contract is about 13 percent higher.

In April, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan told The Notebook that the union would explore options to reverse legally any outsourced substitute staffing contract.

Kelly Education Staffing, the largest provider of substitute teachers in the United States, will manage most per diem substitute positions, as well as recruit, hire, assign, manage and train all substitute staff. It will employ recruiters, managers and administrative personnel exclusive to the district, the company said, noting that a central customer support team with trained schedulers will "constantly monitor and manually fill absences, including same-day and last-minute situations."