Turnkey talent program management helps Rock Hill Schools raise fill rates to 99%

Turnkey talent program management helps Rock Hill Schools raise fill rates to 99%

Built on a philosophy of shared investment in the schools and local community, a district forms a longstanding partnership with Kelly Educational Staffing® for a turnkey, end-to-end solution that manages its substitute teachers and school nurses.

Located just 20 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina, Rock Hill Schools comprise the largest of four school districts in York County, South Carolina. The district includes one preschool, 17 elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools—plus a career/technology center, and other special programs. Through a partnership with their local Kelly Educational Staffing (KES®) team, Rock Hill Schools have covered staff absences with quality substitute teachers—one of a number of significant advantages to the district—since 2004.

Results at a Glance

The challenge

Prior to contracting with KES for a comprehensive program, Rock Hill Schools were managing substitute teachers like many other districts: manually. An administrative assistant at each school would call substitute teachers each day from a handwritten list—often duplicating calls—with no centralized way to track the whole pool of candidates, or to know when each was available.

Beyond creating inefficiencies, this process was the root of another issue at the district related to compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Department of Labor (DOL) was actively auditing school districts in the state regarding their overtime practices and guidelines for compensation. Because Rock Hill administrative assistants had to contact and schedule most substitute teachers at last-minute notice, they worked many early or late hours each week, without properly logging the time. After a self-audit, the district calculated almost $200,000 in back wages that were paid to its administrative assistants; nearly all off-hours were ascribed to managing teacher absences.

The Rock Hill district needed a solution to reduce this expense, the ongoing burden on its administrative staff, and its own legal liability—while still engaging the high-quality substitute teachers it needed to ensure student achievement. KES presented an ideal partnership that’s grown with success over time. Rebecca Partlow, the executive director for personnel within Rock Hill Schools confirmed that, “As our partner, Kelly Educational Staffing offers much more than just a body to cover a class. They demonstrate the same level of commitment to the job as we do at Rock Hill Schools, while saving us in overtime, and allowing our secretaries to focus on other core administrative contributions to their schools.”

The solution

KES first teamed up with leaders from Rock Hill Schools to establish a program that could scale to reliably cover a staff of 1,300+ teachers, and critical staff to support a student population of about 17,400. They also implemented an industry-leading, user-friendly automated scheduling system with Frontline Education’s Absence Management Solution (formerly known as Aesop)—featuring 24/7/365 web and phone access for requesting or scheduling staff and online timekeeping. A standard, paid training session is held for substitute teachers every summer to cover new issues, with additional classes in professional development and safety that are customized for the district. But as much as these enhancements have helped, Rock Hill Schools have benefited equally from the outstanding service, extra resources, and ongoing partnership that KES has delivered year after year.

Turnkey program management More than a simple payroll or technology solution, KES provided the district with immediate turnkey, end-to-end talent program management. This included targeted year-round recruiting and scheduling, both automated and through its centralized, dedicated customer support team with powerful reporting and consultation— all delivered through a local account team that is dedicated to Rock Hill Schools. KES has the resources and insight to ensure the district stays legally compliant with the FLSA, DOL, and with federal or state employment legislation such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The team has other corporate experts on hand for key HR issues such as safety and workers’ compensation. The district quickly recognized the character of a true workforce partner: one that believes education is a shared responsibility, and who reflects that mission every day by staying involved.

Giving back to Rock Hill

For example, the citizens of Rock Hill expect excellence in their schools, and support this commitment with their own time, talents, and financial resources. Likewise, the local KES team has found a host of ways to give back:

  • They volunteer, acting as guest speakers in the schools’ Junior Achievement® program
  • They participate in mock interviews with high school business classes
  • KES donates a summer survival kit for teachers—bottles of water, Tylenol®, and small treats
  • 300 knapsacks of food were assembled and donated to disadvantaged students
  • Box lunches were distributed to administrative assistants gearing up for a new school year
  • KES shares its corporate pricing for basic school supplies like paper, pencils, and pens

Meanwhile, the relationship has expanded to cover other categories of talent. In tougher economic years, when regular teachers were being furloughed and the district’s after-school program was in line to be cut, KES was there to help. For years, KES staffed the district’s after-school program, typically scheduling substitute teachers already on-site who preferred to stay if possible, while still controlling cost by avoiding any overtime. Today, the KES team also helps to staff all 27 school nurses across the district’s healthcare program—a huge challenge in the face of a national nursing shortage, and with a much smaller local pool available to fill the positions. In Ms. Partlow’s best estimation, “If not for KES, Rock Hill Schools would likely experience ongoing nursing vacancies for months at a time.”

The result

Soon after deployment:

  • Placement rates for Rock Hill substitute teachers improved to as high as 99%
  • With about 220+ substitute teachers in its pool, the district places 70 – 100 per day
  • KES also fills nearly 400 absences per year for school nurses, improving the district’s past 40 – 50% placement rates to a range of 80 – 90%

All employees are delivered with more efficiency for quicker fill times, driving higher satisfaction for teachers as well as the substitute pool—not to mention higher satisfaction for administrative assistants and the district’s clerical support personnel. Meanwhile, the KES team continues to offer legal or regulatory compliance for issues such as the ACA.

To complement its great service, KES also retains quality substitute teachers—with some remaining in the district’s pool for as long as 10 years after its original transition to KES. Stellar employee care includes paid training, a portfolio of perks and recognition initiatives, a service bonus plan, plus ongoing professional training and development at no cost. Many retired Rock Hill teachers are retained in the substitute teacher pool, especially for longer assignments, and in schools where the students and teachers are already familiar with each other. And more than 80 percent of substitute teachers have a teaching certificate, although it’s not required by the state.

Over time, three of the four districts in York County have contracted with Kelly Educational Staffing. For Rock Hill Schools, according to Partlow, “KES invests in our substitute teachers, and directly in our schools on a professional and personal level. We’ve developed a relationship of trust, allowing us to work closely together on any and every substitute or staffing need that might arise.” What more could a district ask? Whatever that may be, KES has an answer.

“The key to our success in partnership is that KES takes the time to really get to know our local district staff, and worksclosely with us on common goals.”

—Rebecca Partlow, Executive Director for Personnel, Rock Hill Schools

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