The Pickerington Local School District is considering the purchase of a new automated system to track teacher absences and place substitute teachers in classrooms.

The Pickerington Local School District is considering the purchase of a new automated system to track teacher absences and place substitute teachers in classrooms.

At its May 10 meeting, the PLSD Board of Education is expected to authorize a $10,500 contract with Frontline Placement Technologies Inc. to implement an automated substitute placement and absence management system (Aesop) for the district's 14 schools and approximately 700 teachers.

According to an Aesop brochure, the system would allow teachers to register their absences at any time online or by calling a toll-free number.

It also would allow the district's substitute teachers to search for available assignments any time and be notified based on preference lists managed by the district.

"Most large districts - districts our size - are using it," said Larry Mullins, PLSD's human resources director. "It is pretty flexible, so you can set it up to what we need."

Included in the $10,500 contract is a $4,000 fee for one-time setup and training. There are no costs for phone lines, upgrades or maintenance, and the Aesop service can be cancelled at any time after the district gives Frontline 30 days notice.

Currently, the district has a phone list of available substitute teachers and calls them when a teacher has an absence.

Board member Lisa Reade said the Aesop system will help ensure that substitutes with expertise in specific subjects are assigned to those classrooms.

"Sometimes we lose an education day because we can't get a teacher in who knows (the subject)," she said. "I think this is going to improve the efficiency. I think it's going to improve the instruction in the classroom."

PLSD Superintendent Karen Mantia supports the purchase of the system. She said it will help the district keep tabs on substitute teacher costs throughout the year, and she and Mullins believe it will increase full-time teachers' accountability and yearly attendance.

"It's incredibly efficient and probably, from a financial standpoint, it will save us money in the long run," Mantia said.

Debra Porter-Sawyer, PLSD's assistant human resources director, said Pickerington is the only school district in Fairfield County that currently doesn't use an automated substitute placement and absence management system for teachers.

The board's May 10 meeting is slated for 7 p.m. at Heritage Elementary, 100 East St. Treasurer Dan Griscom said if the Frontline contract is approved then, the district intends to have the automated system in place by the start of the 2010-11 school year.

nellis@thisweeknews.com