LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — School districts across the state are struggling to find teachers and substitutes.

Now, a new bill in the Michigan House aims to address that problem.

“I was a traveling Spanish teacher about three and a half years ago, four years ago before I ran. It was a pain to find substitute teachers. The pool was short and thin, it’s even worse now with the pandemic,” said State Representative Brad Paquette (R-Niles.)

Paquette’s House Bill 4294 aims to tackle the substitute teacher shortage.

It would allow districts to use staff that doesn’t meet the 60 college credit requirement or even have a certificate to teach.

“It isn’t about being an expert in a content area. You have plenty of substitute teachers that are quote-unquote qualified right now that are put into algebra classes… I think that opens a new doorway into learning when you’re a few steps ahead of a young person and when you come alongside them and say “hey I don’t know this either but let’s find this out together,” said Paquette.

Staff members would not be forced to take on the new role, but those who do would keep their current pay rate.

State Rep Matt Kolesar says that school staff is overwhelmed.

“This legislation is taking our support staff from critical roles that they already have. Whether you are a bus driver or a paraprofessional, those jobs, those duties are incredibly important, and to take them away from those duties, to me, is not what’s best for kids at all,” said Kolesar.

He says the bill is a temporary fix for a larger problem. Better funding and higher pay are needed to help bring in more staff.

“We need to be doing more to attract people to the profession, not just applying band-aids, to try and stop a shortage that these bills will not stop,” said Kolesar.

Both agree this teaching shortage means kids are missing out on vital class time.

“If you ask most parents, they will tell you that their students learn best when they are in the classroom in front of the teacher, face to face,” said Kolesar.

“People in the education world are very good at being on their toes, but it’s very clear that in-person learning is the most effective and a lot of parents very much want that and that’s something that really needs to be available,” said Niles.