Saugus substitute teachers will see an increase in pay with the rising minimum wage for the new year

SAUGUS — Substitute teachers in Saugus will be paid more in the new year.

“We’re having a real difficulty attracting elementary substitute teachers,” said Pola Andrews.

Minimum wage will be raised from $11 to $12 on Jan. 1 and will continue to rise in 75-cent increments until it reaches $15 in 2023.

“We, as a municipality, do not need to follow this law, but it is in our interest to do so,” said Andrews. “Being eight miles outside of Boston and right off of Route 1, if we don’t offer minimum wage, we will not get staff.”

Minimum wage applies to crossing guards, substitute clerks, and any other position created similar to that, said Andrews.

With the vote to raise the pay of these employees, School Committee members also opted to raise the daily substitute rate from $70 per day to $80. Substitutes work six hours a day and take a half-hour unpaid lunch.

“It is a much more competitive substitute rate than what we offer,” said Andrews.

Jeannie Meredith, chairwoman of the School Committee, said she has consistently heard complaints that the district can’t secure quality substitute teachers and that students are instead spending classroom time sitting in a cafeteria or auditorium.

“I really don’t want to see kids like cattle in a cafeteria, wasting time when we could have substitute teachers for another $10 a day,” said School Committee member Liz Marchese.

The committee voted 4-0 in favor of raising the daily rate to $80 a day for substitute teachers and for raising the rate for minimum wage employees to $12.

If the new rate doesn’t attract more applicants, the district will look at raising it more — to about $85 per day — in next year’s budget, said Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi.

DeRuosi also wants to revisit the rate for substitute nurses, which is $125 per day.

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