Have you ever considered why a school or organization hires Independent Contractors (ICs)? The answers vary – and are enlightening.
First, ICs provide a significant value to a school. They bring specialized knowledge and experience to a school. Many schools do not have the budget to hire fulltime therapists and special education teacher. They turn to staffing organizations to help them fill the positions they need. State law may determine which therapist the school needs to hire. By staffing independent contractors, the school can bring in a talented and experienced expert in their field and yet keep their costs down. The school can determine how many hours per week and which specialty area they need at an affordable cost.
Second, contractors help the school to staff only the number of specialists they need and avoid having to deal with teacher unions when their staffing needs change. This allows schools to quickly make changes to their talent pool whenever their needs change without having to go through a lengthy HR process to lay people off or hire more people.
School boards can consider bids from staffing companies and award contracts to them to fill the open positions they have at a cost they can afford. Therapists and teachers are compensated at a prescribed rate and their hours are established by the school. So if a school needs a special education teacher “fulltime,” they can budget an hourly rate for 37.5 hours per week.
Therapists are also compensated on an hourly basis unless they are doing student evaluations that involve more time, and that might be paid on a per student basis. A contractor may enjoy the variety of working with many different children in different schools with a variety of ages.
Some therapists such as occupational or physical therapists or psychologists have established their own businesses and have Limited Liability Companies, or LLCs. They may have offices and see their own patients, but have periods of time that are not filled. Those therapists can fill their pipeline by working part-time project by project at a school doing evaluations.
Others may want to work solely in the school and use contracting to try out working in an education environment. This creates the opportunity to experience the culture and type of people who work there. It’s a special chance to focus solely on the children assigned to them without having to get involved in “office politics” with their colleagues. It’s not that they don’t have an interest in the school, but rather that they are charged with coming in to do their job and being able to leave the other aspects of work.
The experience someone gets working as a contractor will make them more attractive to other schools. Working at a variety of schools gives you a feel for the environment you would most prefer. It’s an inside look to help decide whether to remain working as a contractor or at some future point, take a permanent position at a school that was enjoyable.