The Jackson County School System is now working with ESS, an educational staffing firm, to manage the hiring and placement process and provide better opportunities and benefits for substitute teachers, parapros, and custodians.
The transition efforts began in February, said Dr. April Howard, JCSS superintendent, and ESS took the lead March 11, 2019.
Under the terms of the contract, approved by the Jackson County Board of Education Jan. 14, individuals are now eligible for weekly paychecks, healthcare insurance, 401(k) retirement plans, ongoing professional development, and bonus opportunities, Dr. Howard said.
“The men and women who are part of our sub-pool make themselves available to support our students and staff, often on very short notice,” she added. “We are glad to be able to offer them these benefits through ESS.”
In addition to employing existing subs who make the transition to ESS, the company will recruit, screen, train, hire, and manage other new workers for the school system, said Dr. Selena Blankenship, JCSS director of human resources.
“The ESS process lets people choose when, where, and how often they work,” Dr. Blankenship said. “An online system gives them ’round-the-clock access to information about openings via web portal, phone, and text.”
She said the company provides training for all involved, including school administrators, faculty and staff. The company uses the Aesop/Frontline system employees with which JCSS employees and current substitutes already are familiar.
A client services team is available by phone and email to answer questions, offer guidance, and help with absence management tasks.
In addition to improving benefits and logistics, Dr. Blankenship said, the partnership is expected to reduce the number of unfilled positions when staff members have to be out of the school.
“Absences are inevitable in any organization, even with staff as dedicated as ours,” Dr. Blankenship said. “We believe ESS can help minimize the impact on our students while improving the benefits for the substitutes who step in to help us with that important work. With more than 700 teachers and parapros working in 10 schools to serve approximately 8,000 students, we will definitely benefit from the company’s extensive experience in managing this important function,” she said.
ESS, established in 2000, complies with state-mandated requirements for the credentials needed to work in public schools. The firm provides the necessary background checks for its staff, and has eliminated the $25 application fee the school system charged substitute applicants, Dr. Blankenship said.
The company fills more than 13,000 daily, long-term, and permanent school assignments for more than 700 partners across 23 states in the U.S.
Forbes magazine has named it one of America’s 500 Best Employers for the last two years; it was ranked No. 116 for 2018.
To learn more online about the company or apply for a substitute position with JCSS, visit ESS.com.