Sub shortage leaves Mahoning districts grappling for candidates

Several school districts in Mahoning County are experiencing a substitute teacher and driver shortage.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The change in weather along with the onset of cold and flu season are creating concerns for some school districts as they look to find substitutes on the road and in the classroom.

Finding substitute teachers and bus drivers is becoming a big challenge. Struthers City School Superintendent Joe Nohra said the positions are vital to the school system, and they are in desperate need. Unlike other professions, not filling the position on any day is not an option.

“That would be like saying we are not going to have someone in your child’s third grade class. That is just not going to work,” Nohra said.

Nohra believes one reason for the substitute teacher shortage is that young teachers do not want to sub; they want a full-time job. But he said a substitute position allows new teachers to showcase their talent.

A search of the state’s job matching website,, found that substitute bus drivers and teachers were not among the most listed job postings in the Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties. Locally, the most job postings were for registered nurses, retail sales supervisors and truck drivers.

Cheryl McArthur, with the Mahoning County’s Educational Service Center, says the shortage is nationwide, but locally, the unemployment rate plays a role and right now it is down.

“Where we used to have one substitute for every three teachers, now it is one for every six,” McArthur said.

The Mahoning County Career and Technical Center is holding a job fair Jan. 19 for recent graduates, retired teachers and other who hold bachelor’s degrees.

Finding substitute bus drivers isn’t getting any easier either. In October, a local recruitment fair was held where 200 people showed up. Of those 200, 88 signed up, but staffing drivers is a process.

“Out of those 88, we have about 20 in the pipeline that are going through training, and we expect to have those 20 on the road fairly soon,” said Jim Herrholtz, assistant superintendent of the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

The state of Ohio requires that all substitute teachers obtain a substitute license, go through a BCI background check and complete a training course.

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