Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53 now is offering a $100 signing bonus to substitute teachers to help fill a growing shortage.

The area's pool of subs has dropped by about 70 percent during the past five years.

The district will pay out the signing bonus after a sub's first day. Superintendent Dan Hollowell said the move is geared toward solving the county's sub shortage and making his district more appealing.

"We are competing with other districts for the same few subs," Hollowell said. "While we're trying to get more subs, we hope this encourages more people in the community to become substitute teachers so we can grow the pool."

During the past five years, the Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education's area-wide sub list has dropped from 330 in 2012 to 100 this year. However, some districts have subs they contact directly.

Regional School Superintendent Gregg Murphy attributed that decline to legislation that once required subs to only complete a basic skills test to renew their license. That legislation is no longer in effect.

"I think we're going to see districts throughout the area get creative to get qualified individuals," Murphy said. "When you get a bunch of superintendents together, the main concerns are finding subs and bus drivers. It's an issue throughout the state and especially this area."

Substitute teachers in this area must have at least a bachelor's degree. They also must pass fingerprint and background checks, in addition to paying application and registration fees. In total, people are paying $160 to sub here.

The amount they receive for a day's work fluctuates from school district to school district, and data compiled by the website indeed.com places the statewide average pay at $123 per day.

Hollowell hopes the $100 signing bonus will encourage more people to sub by offsetting their starting costs. A handful of potential subs have contacted him during the past week.

"We want to help subs recoup the cost of becoming a sub," Hollowell said. "They are getting all their money back in one day of subbing. Hopefully, that helps us get new people in the pool so we can solve a countywide problem."

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