SARASOTA, Fla. - To substitute teach at a school in Sarasota County, you would normally have to meet standards higher than the state. But now the district is easing some of those requirements.
"We got up to holding an actual teaching certificate, which means you probable had to graduate from a Florida School of Education or sit for a test. Now we are going to put it at just a Bachelor's degree," said Roy Sprinkle with the Sarasota School District.
Officials say the change in necessary to increase the amount of substitute candidates needed district-wide, especially in 13 Suncoast schools.
"We employ upwards of over 5,000 people and on a daily basis, people get sick, they have doctor's appointments, their children get sick; so those cases we need to have to have someone in front of the children," added Sprinkle.
On any given day the number of subs needed in the district could range from 3 to 500. Sprinkle says in recent years the pool to find qualified people has diminished because many of them are now full time teachers. That need for substitutes is what prompted officials to change the guidelines which potential candidates at Friday's job fair are celebrating.
"I think its an opportunity for the school district to open its doors to qualified professionals who have not considered a teaching career in the past. There are those who have a wealth of professional and personal learning that we can bring," said Patti Heien.
"Now that they lowered the standard it's much easier for other people to get their foot in the door and basically get into a different career," added Jenelle Beckford.
But despite the change in the substitute requirements, the district is still exceeding the state's guidelines.
"The standard as a Bachelor's degree is still well above the state's requirement that is a high school diploma," said Sprinkle.
The substitute teachers without a teacher's certification will only be able teach at schools experiencing a substitute shortage. The district says those interested can apply on their website.