New ‘partnership’ for hiring subs

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The Jackson County School System has announced it will begin working with ESS, an educational staffing firm, to provide better opportunities and benefits for substitute teachers and to manage the hiring and placement process.

The transition efforts will begin immediately, said Dr. April Howard, JCSS superintendent. ESS will take the lead March 11.

Under the terms of the contract, approved by the Jackson County Board of Education Jan. 14, individuals substituting for teachers will be 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.”

Substitute Teacher - Because Miracle Worker is not an official title

In addition to employing existing subs who make the transition to ESS, the company will recruit, screen, train, hire, and manage new substitutes for the school system, said Dr. Selena Blankenship, JCSS director of human resources.

“The ESS process lets substitutes choose when, where, and how often they work,” Dr. Blankenship said. “An online system will give them ’round-the-clock access to information about openings via web portal, phone, and text.”

She said the company will provide training for all involved – school administrators, faculty and staff, and substitutes. The company will use the Aesop/Frontline system employees with which JCSS employees and substitutes already are familiar.

A client services team will be available by phone and email to answer questions, offer guidance, and help with absence management tasks.

In addition to improving benefits and logistics for substitutes, Dr. Blankenship said, the partnership is expected to reduce the number of unfilled positions in classrooms when teachers 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 will provide the necessary background checks for its staff, and will eliminate the $25 application fee the school system has charged for 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