Amy Hiner

School board member Amy Hiner was added to the district wide substitute teacher list Tuesday after agreeing to serve as a volunteer.

ONTARIO -- It's common for school board members to volunteer within a district, but the position Amy Hinter decided to help with made her decision unique.

Hiner saw Ontario's need for substitute teachers, she offered to help.

Hiner was one of four people approved by the board of education to serve as substitute teachers during Tuesday's school board meeting. As a board member, she cannot work for the district, but has agreed to volunteer her time.

"We've had board members volunteer for certain things in the past, I don't think we've ever had one volunteer to sub," Supt. Lisa Carmichael said. "For her to be willing to help out on a voluntary basis, I thought that was very generous."

Hiner attained a master's degree in education and taught early elementary school prior to joining the school board. 

"We have tons of parents that are now being substitutes and it's very helpful. So I decided I would too," she said. "I told them that if they give me advance notice so I can arrange childcare, I'll come in an help.

"We have a sub shortage just like everybody else. We want to keep kids in school and so we need subs."

Schools within Richland County and across the nation have struggled with a substitute personnel shortage, exacerbated by the pandemic. Ohio is temporarily waiving the requirement that substitute teachers have a bachelor’s degree in order to ease the burden on schools. 

Assistant Supt. Mike Ream said Ontario has benefitted from the provisions, which were passed in Senate Bill 1 last year.

“The freedom to add folks to our sub pool has gone a long way in helping us stay afloat and stay open," Ream said. 

While districts across Richland County have adopted the modified requirements, staffing remains a challenge.

“Staffing has been a concern, yesterday transportation was a concern. We continue to shuffle the deck," Carmichael said.

Some schools including Mansfield Middle School and Senior High and the entire Crestline Exempted Village School District have gone to temporary remote learning as a result of staffing shortages and an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

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Staff reporter focused on education and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. You can reach me at katie@richlandsource.com