KENNEBUNK – Public schools in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel could use several more substitutes and are putting out the word to the Regional School Unit 21 community.

School board member Dawn Therrien, speaking at a recent meeting, issued what she called “a call to action,” for substitutes.

Regional School Unit 21 is looking to bolster its roster of substitute teachers. Dan King photo

“I’m an going to ask my friends to donate a day for my birthday and go to my daughter’s school,” she said, noting the substitute positions are paid. “We need the community … you need to get your application in.”

RSU 21 Director of Human Resources Scott Harrison, in an email, said in general terms, the district employs about five to seven substitute teachers at Kennebunk High School, three or four at Middle School of the Kennebunks, and three to five substitutes in the district’s elementary schools.

But the need is far greater. They would like a core group of 10 more at the high school, five at the middle school;  two or three more at the district’s small elementary schools and five to 10 for the larger elementary schools, he estimated. The number of substitutes needed varies from day to day, he said, especially during the pandemic.

“Some days our schools need more subs than we have, other days we have just enough,” Harrison said. “When we call for subs, it can be due to teachers out for illness, doctors’ appointments, bereavement, professional learning or release time for planning, paternity leave, jury duty, sick kids at home,” and other reasons.


At the school board meeting, the subject of substitutes arose as Superintendent Terri Cooper talked about the need for educators to have planning time, particularly in elementary grades where a new curriculum is in place.

“Our teachers have said we need more planning time, and we want to make sure we are giving them an opportunity to plan collaboratively, but also being able to do the work independently,” she said.

Cooper said the district wants to provide more time for educators in a way that does not infringe on parent schedules.

“We will solicit the support of our limited substitutes and … start with half a day for grade levels to meet with substitutes covering the classroom,” she told the school board. “This will be a difficult feat because we do have limited substitutes at this point.”

Cooper said the district may call on current substitutes who usually work in other schools to work in the elementary schools.

“We need you, we are going to call you,” she said, and she encouraged those who have not applied to be a substitute to do so. The district is also looking for educational technicians and employees in other fields.

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