The Montebello Unified School District has become the first in the state to turn over its problems finding substitute teachers to a computer, saving time, money and a few headaches, district officials said.
The computer replaces one of two employees who used to report to district headquarters at 5:30 a.m. to field calls for substitute teachers, and who then scrambled to find replacements before classes began.
Now teachers, using Touch Tone telephones, can call the computer at any hour, enter a personal identification number that tells the computer what grade level, subject and day a substitute is necessary, and the computer takes over from there.
Dolores Vasquez, the district's personnel director, said once the computer has the information it begins dialing the phone numbers of substitute teachers. A substitute who answers the phone will hear a computer message informing him or her of the job opening. Once the computer has delivered the message, which can include a personal message from the teacher, the substitute punches a number that tells the computer if he will accept the job.
"It's just a matter of listening and pressing a few buttons," Vasquez said.
So far, district officials say, the system has been more than worth the $66,000 cost.
Recently, 38 teachers called in requests for substitutes on one Wednesday. Before classes were over Tuesday, the computer had located replacements for 36 of the teachers.
Vasquez said one employee is still on hand to take calls from teachers and substitutes who do not have push-button phones.