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An estimated 10 percent of the nation's 2.75 million teachers are absent each day, whether it's due to illness, in-service training, continuing education or personal demands. Traditionally, making substitute teacher placements has meant administrators making one-to-one phone calls every morning.

FrontLine Data Inc.'s Internet and telephone-based substitute management system, called AESOP, was introduced last year and now services more than 80 districts. It allows teachers to post their absences (as well as lesson plans or notes) on the Internet for substitute teachers to view.

Teachers and substitutes also communicate with the system through an 800-number, which uses Interactive Voice Response technology and calls potential substitutes directly when a vacancy is discovered. To ensure access only to approved substitutes, each is assigned a personal identification number.

AESOP's newest feature is the ability for each registered user to view a personalized home page. Known as My Aesop, the feature ensures that each user--whether it's an administrator, teacher, staff member or substitute teacher--can immediately access what's important. For example, a principal may want to have a daily report of absences appear upon log-in, while a substitute teacher needs to see a schedule of available days and commitments.

AESOP was designed for compatibility with other systems a district uses, says FrontLine's CEO, Michael Blackstone. "We built it with a very flexible front end." And, because schools want a single system to track all staff member absences (not just teachers, who need a replacement when absent), non-teaching staff can also be part of AESOP.

Toms River School District in New Jersey has discovered that using AESOP has greatly improved efficiency. Jerry Jellets, board secretary and head of information technology for the Board of Education, says, "Prior to automating with AESOP, we had four individuals who handled our daily absenteeism. One individual now operates the entire district."

Administrators can view daily reports and receive updates on substitute and teacher activity. Besides assisting in day-to-day operations, the reports offer a view of trends surrounding absenteeism. The AESOP system also automates payroll and accounting for all staff.

Blackstone reports districts using the system are seeing increases in fill rates for substitute positions: 60 percent of all absences posted are filled within an hour, and 88 percent are filled within one day. "That speed allows school districts to quickly get the word out to substitutes who otherwise may take assignments with other local districts." he says.

The cost of bringing AESOP to a district includes training and implementation and ongoing subscription fees, all based on district size.

Training and implementation costs $1,000 to $5,000, and monthly fees are $1.10 to $5 per staff member needing a replacement and $.60 to $2.50 per staff member not requiring a replacement (non-active staff accounts can be deactivated during summer vacations for a lower yearly cost). Districts generally sign one- to three-year contracts with the option of district cancellation (with notice). www.AESOPonline.com CIRCLE #520 FOR MORE INFORMATION
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Publication:District Administration
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Words:492
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