Limestone County schools addressing special education, substitute teacher shortages

WAFF's Jasmyn Cornell reporting
Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 9:54 AM CDT
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ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - School systems around the state continue to face teacher shortages. Many districts are looking for both full-time and substitute teachers.

The Limestone County School District is one district working to address teacher shortages, specifically special education and substitute teachers.

According to Bill Tribble, the Executive Director of Human Resources and Operations for the Limestone County School District, the district was experiencing staffing shortages before the pandemic. He says some schools are well-staffed with substitute teachers while others are not. The district is seeing shortages in the smaller schools, said Tribble.

School leaders have established a system of permanent substitutes, and they have been using this for the past two years. According to Tribble, this helps the schools to respond quickly to teacher emergencies or sickness.

Tribble says he believes pay is one reason why they’re struggling to fill the permanent substitute teaching positions. Last year, the school system was able to increase the salary for teachers. He is hoping that this will encourage more people, especially college students, to apply to be a substitute.

”We really encourage those students to become substitute teachers because that gives them, especially if they’re going into the education field, it gives them some opportunities to work in school,” Tribble said. “So, we try to work with our local universities... to try to get some of those students in as substitutes as they’re completing their degrees.”

Tribble says the goal is to have two permanent substitutes in every school.

WAFF's Jasmyn Cornell reporting

When it comes to special education teachers, Tribble says the district is better staffed this year than it has been the last couple of years. This year, the district hired instructional aides and six to eight new special education teachers.

According to Tribble, a new certification program for special education has helped the district address the shortage. Teachers, who don’t have a four-year degree in special education, can now go through the training while they’re teaching special education classes.

”It allows us to get them in the door, get them started. We pair them with a very strong mentor – special education teacher. We also have oversight from our district’s Special Education Department to kind of support them and help them, but again, this program has helped us tremendously,” said Tribble.

If you’re interested in working for the district, visit

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