FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – 500 dollars a day, that is how much Fresno Unified certified substitute teachers will make if the Fresno Teacher’s Association (FTA) decides to strike.

Back in 2017, the district’s board approved substitutes to make $500 a day if a strike did happen.

Back then, it did not happen, but with another strike looming in 2023, they say they have to entice instructors somehow to cross the picket lines.

“When our teachers are actively on strike and picketing, that’s when this higher rate of pay will go into play,” said Nikki Henry.

Henry is head of communications for Fresno Unified. The district is preparing in any and all ways, if the FTA decides to strike in the middle of the fall semester.

“Yes, we need to entice, we need to pull folks from other areas to make sure that we can provide everything to our kids,” Henry said. “The $500 a day is absolutely strategic and intentional in order to keep our schools safe, open, and full of learning.”

The district says they have around 2,000 certified substitute teachers ready to go right now but want to start advertising for more.

“We’re seeing more than 95% say they will continue to substitute even if there is an active strike,” she said. “We’ve gotta get people background checked, we’ve gotta make sure they are credentialed and ready to go and come onto campus.”

All of this even though the FTA still has 15 days until they vote whether to strike or not.

However, the big question is, why up substitute pay, when you can direct it towards the actual district teachers?

The district says teachers are already making that much.

“Our average teacher salary right now comes down to a $490 a day rate,” Henry said. “It’s just diverting that money to the substitute.”

The FTA will hold its strike authorization vote on Oct. 18.

We tried to reach out to a representative with the FTA Tuesday, to get their response to this increase. We did not hear back from them in time for this story.