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What a Contract with Ed Staffing Solutions (ESS) for Subs Looks Like

September 18, 2022

In its September 08, 2022, board meeting, Louisiana-based St. Tammany Parish Public Schools (STPPS) introduced the idea of contracting to a third party, Education Staffing Services (ESS) to provide substitute teachers to St. Tammany’s schools.

ESS’s main office is in Knoxville, TN, but it has branches in several states.

Some details from the September 05, 2022, Nola.com on the issue:

School administrators want to bring on an outside company, Educational Staffing Solutions, that would recruit, vet, and train new subs who would be employed by them rather than the school system. ESS would provide health care insurance and retirement benefits as well as incentives that include $100 referral bonuses. After an onboarding process, current subs would transition to the new employer. 

“They can offer benefits that we cannot,” said Steve Alphonso, the school district’s supervisor of human resources. “This is going to help our employees if they need to take off, if they get sick. We’re trying to get the kids covered in the classroom, that’s the ultimate goal.” 

Terri Prevost, the school district’s chief financial officer, said the projected cost for substitutes without using ESS is $3.6 million annually. Bringing in the agency would cost the district $4.2 million, which includes the salaries and benefit packages for a larger pool of substitutes.

Prevost added that overall it would be an increase of $582,000. But if the district kept the status quo and tried to grow the number of subs itself, it would cost the district about $900,000, she said. 

Jabbia reiterated that in addition to the benefits and incentives an outside agency can provide, subs will want to come to work because they will be treated like a full-time employee, rather than a part-time employee.

Jabbia has to draw up a contract that will be vetted by the district’s legal team. The board will vote on the motion at a later date.

Of course, what matters are the details in that ESS-STPPS contract that does not yet exist.

It is all about the contract.

Since St. Tammany has no contract yet, I searched online to find an example of a contract with ESS for substitute teacher services, and I found this one between ESS and Thomasville City Schools (NC) for 2021-22.

Even though the document is not St. Tammany’s contract with ESS, the ESS-Thomasville contract does provide a glimpse into what might be in a future contract between STPPS and ESS, so let’s just say it provides a furrowed-brow heads-up, if you will.

I encourage readers to pore over the entire document.

Some issues that stand out to me:

  • All subs are employees of ESS.
  • Sub training for this particular district will be provided by ESS and billed to the district at “a fee equal to the actual cost.”
  • District is still responsible for notifying ESS of “all Substitute staff on-site changes.”
  • District is responsible for assisting ESS in the “process the daily record keeping and other tasks necessary for the Company to administer and track Substitute Staff.”
  • Here’s something notable and certainly not like “being treated as a full-time employee”: “The Company normally hires Substitute Staff as part time employees who will work on average less than 30 hours per week such that they are not eligible for healthcare benefits under the ACA.” Continuing: “However, should the LEA in its discretion employ Substitute Staff to work directly for LEA in addition to the hours worked for Company (example: after school program director or coach), and the combined work hours of the Substitute Staff cause the Substitute Staff to be deemed eligible to receive healthcare benefits under the ACA, the LEA agrees to reimburse the Company’s cost of providing the minimum plan healthcare insurance coverage under the ACA.”
  • Here’s another: If ESS (Company) provides a so that district (LEA) hires full time, then district owes ESS a fee: “If LEA hires Substitute Staff as a full-time employee of the LEA during the term of this Agreement, LEA shall pay to Company the sum of $2,500.00. This payment is to reimburse Company for recruitment expenses and lost revenue. This fee shall not be due if the Substitute Staff was a ‘district original’, i.e. previously working for the LEA at the start of this Agreement, or if the Substitute Staff has worked Sixty (60) or more days of assignments as Substitute Staff for the LEA.”

Know what is not in this contract?

Any guarantee that ESS will resolve any substitute staffing shortage.

Will Frank Jabbia and his board include such language in an ESS-STPPS contract?

Isn’t that the point of this attempted sell to the St. Tammany public– to contract with ESS to resolve the sub shortage?

Now, we could first try something sensible, like ridding St. Tammany of this convoluted non-process of having would-be subs first find a STPPS school principal willing to sign off and submit names to HR and instead create an online portal for subs to apply directly to HR and not be restricted to sub in certain St. Tammany schools at the exclusion of other St. Tammany schools.

ESS recruits online.

Before the rush to toss half-a-mil-plus at a non-guaranteed outsource, couldn’t STPPS first create an efficient means for subs to apply online directly to HR?

Just asking for someone with basic critical thinking capabilities.

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3 Comments
  1. Daedalus permalink

    You can’t hire a ‘middle man’ and expect to save money. ‘Middle men’ always take their cut.

  2. Some years back, maybe twenty or so, Boston Teachers Union added substitutes to the bargaining unit. Seems to be the thing to do, not this mess.

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