FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – With Fresno Unified teachers set to strike on November 1, the district says they have roughly 2,500 substitutes that are ready to go.
The district says, contrary to doubt cast on the qualifications for subs, they say there are strict standards that will be followed.
Subs have to be fingerprinted, background checked and must have a valid teaching permit in Fresno County. They must also have at least 90 college credits.
“Include having a bachelor’s degree or at least a certain number of college credits that are relevant, to make sure that you’re ready to go into a classroom, pick up some curriculum, and move forward and teach our students. So, you have that, plus you have to take the CBEST exam,” said Nikki Henry, chief communications officer for Fresno Unified.
Henry says 1,300 of the fill-ins were already subs with the district before the strike vote took place.
FTA President Manuel Bonilla says they will always support their regular, tenured subs, but said there are serious questions about the others the district is bringing in.
He inferred some of the subs may just be looking to cash in on the $500 per day offered by the district.
“We know and love our regular guest teachers. What we’ve seen in regards to these numbers is Superintendent Nelson put an all-call throughout the state, so we don’t know. These are outsiders. These are people from outside our community looking to make a quick buck,” said Bonilla.
The district says the majority of the incoming subs are from the Fresno-Clovis area, but they did confirm there are some subs coming from around the state.
The 2,500 available subs, either way, fall very short of the roughly 4,000 teacher workforce that could strike.
One anonymous substitute teacher said there could be a big shake-up when the strike does happen, and painted a picture that could leave some parents concerned.
“There might be up to five classrooms put together in the gym, in some amphitheaters, that’s for the high schools,” they said.
Bonilla says that is a major concern.
“The district should answer to that because they’re giving off the impression that learning is going to take place when in fact, we’re going to have multiple classes pushed together, packets that they’re gonna be giving out. That’s not learning,” said Bonilla. “That could all be averted if they really value our educators.”
The district said that scenario is unlikely, but class sizes could increase.
“We’re talking, you know for our TK through 3, maybe 25 students, our 4th through 6th maybe 30. 7 and 8 maybe 35. 9 through 12 maybe 40 in a classroom,” said Henry.