WACO, TX (FOX 44) – The first week of school has kicked off with some districts already in need of substitute teachers.

With staff shortages, their work is essential to fill open slots when they pop up.

This month, Waco ISD Board of Trustees approved a substitute teacher pay rate increase of $10 – $20 an hour based on past experience.

Ending the 2021 school year with 250 substitutes, they now have around 210.

“We expect that number to rise,” said Dr. Daniel Lopez, Waco ISD assistant superintendent of human resources. “When I arrived here in September of last year of 2021 our substitute call was about a little over about 195.”

Doing new orientations weekly to maximize sub count, Waco ISD staff is 98% filled having around 1000 employees.

Seeing past issues for substitutes in September and January due to COVID-19, Lopez says they’re restrategizing to have more substitutes on standby when teacher absences occur.

“That’s what we’re really trying to target is folks that are in our community that want to impact students lives on a daily basis,” said Lopez.

Seeing the most absences on Mondays and Fridays, Waco ISD also increased it’s rate by an additional $5 for substitutes to come work.

At Midway ISD assistant superintendent of human resources, Ashley Canuteson, says they currently have 170 substitute teachers previously doing work to be prepared.

“We used to stack or tier our pay rates based on college degrees or college hours or if they were certified teachers, but we post-covid increased our pay and made it at the same rate for all and have maintained that,” said Canuteson.

Midway ISD substitutes are now being paid a daily rate of $100, but the district is always seeking more substitutes for times like the spring.

“Springtime can get crazy, especially when spring sports start up, and we can always use additional interest in that regard,” said Canuteson. “We feel really confident going in with the way things are post-covid and with the start of a new school year.”

FOX44 also reached out to Belton ISD hearing they’re well equipped this school year having 150 more substitutes this year than last.

At West ISD, they hired permanent subs during COVID-19 to serve as instructional aids when fully staffed.