Is it too complicated to become a substitute teacher in Colorado?

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — The process to become a substitute teacher in Colorado could be complicating the staffing shortage in the state, according to a retired teacher who recently completed the process. The current shortage has led to operational school closures in Denver.

“Every time we’d see it on the news, I’d get so frustrated when they’d say we’re so short on subs, and I’d be like, I want to sub … and I can’t,” said retired Jefferson County teacher Marti Silburn.

Silburn believes the current state application system could benefit from change. She was asked by a Jeffco teacher to help out earlier this year, but Silburn was surprised by how long it took to get her Colorado Department of Education substitute teaching license.

She said she started her application on Sept. 12. The process requires a fingerprinting appointment with one of two Colorado Bureau of Investigation-approved vendors.

“The nearest appointment I could get was almost two weeks out,” Silburn told the FOX31 Problem Solvers.

The Colorado Department of Education said the current wait for fingerprinting appointments, depending on location, is less than two days to a week.

Silburn said her application stalled during the roughly two-week wait. She was able to submit the application on Sept. 28. Then she waited for government review.

“I would call, and [the department of education would] say, ‘Well we’re on Aug. 5 right now, and we take applications based on the date they came in,'” Silburn said. “I was Sept. 28, so I’m thinking, ‘Oh boy.'”

Silburn said it took the department of education a month to approve the application and grant her substitute license. The current application turnaround time is about four business days, a department spokesperson said.

“Then, I went back to Jeffco and had to finish my application with them, because you couldn’t apply until your license was good,” Silburn explained.

After an orientation on Nov. 23, the retired teacher — who started the process in September — will finally be allowed to substitute teach.

To streamline the process, Silburn suggests the state dedicates a staffer to focus entirely on substitute teaching applications while others continue processing renewals as those applications are received.

The CBI said it has not been made aware of any delays in appointment times with its fingerprinting vendors.

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