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Cumberland County Schools Partners with ESS to Manage Its Substitute Program

The Cumberland County Board of Education approved a partnership with ESS, a leading education personnel and management company, at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 11. Beginning July 1, 2024, ESS will manage Cumberland County Schools’ (CCS) daily and long-term substitute teachers and substitute teacher assistants.

The partnership calls for ESS to recruit, screen, train, hire, place, and manage applicants interested in becoming substitutes for CCS. An important aspect of this partnership is hiring as many of the current substitutes as possible. ESS plans to hire additional substitute employees locally as needed to fill classrooms with qualified substitutes who can contribute to enhanced student achievement. The ESS partnership also includes a local management team and a significant commitment to the community through various community involvement initiatives.

“We are thrilled to partner with ESS to streamline our substitute staffing process and ensure that our classrooms are filled with qualified and well-supported substitutes,” said Ruben Reyes, the district’s associate superintendent for Human Resources. “This collaboration will help us address our substitute staffing challenges and ultimately benefit our students and educators.”

The demand for substitutes in CCS is significant, with an average of 330 requests each day and even higher demand on Mondays and Fridays. Although the district's substitute fill rate was an impressive 92% before the pandemic, it has since dropped to 68.2%. This decline highlights the broader state and national challenges in substitute staffing. By partnering with ESS, the district aims to enhance the recruitment, training, and retention of substitutes, ensuring classrooms are supported and student achievement is prioritized.

Those interested in joining ESS, including both those currently serving as substitutes and those looking to serve for the first time, may apply online at Additionally, ESS plans to organize a series of hiring events to provide information about the organization, specific job requirements, the hiring and training processes, positions available and pay rates. Interested candidates should attend a virtual hiring event or an in-person I-9 session where they can ask questions, learn more about the company, and meet one-on-one with ESS to address specific needs.

“The ESS team is beyond excited to provide Cumberland County Schools a substitute program rich with resources and support for every student, substitute, and school. We’re also excited to give back to the Cumberland County community, both in and out of school,” said Steve Gritzuk, Chief Operating Officer for ESS. “As students recover from two exceptionally challenging school years, we’re more determined than ever to make sure they have the support they need to be successful and confident. We’re committed to placing highly qualified and trained substitutes in the Cumberland County Schools' classrooms every day.”

About ESS
Established in 2000, ESS is a leading national provider of managed solutions in PreK-12 education. It recruits, hires, trains, places, and manages qualified substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and other support staff for school districts throughout the United States. The company prides itself on supporting passionate substitutes pursuing a career in education while providing an exceptional education to every student every day. Daily, the organization fills more than 28,000 daily, long-term, and permanent school assignments for more than 900 school district partners serving over 5 million students. For more information, call 877.983.2244 or visit

About Cumberland County Schools
Cumberland County Schools is the fifth-largest school system in North Carolina, committed to providing a comprehensive education that meets the diverse needs of each student. With a focus on personalized learning and student support services, CCS aims to empower every student to reach their maximum potential. Serving over 50,000 students across 86 schools, CCS reflects a rich blend of diversity with representation from 76 countries and 70 languages, including over 14,700 students from military or federally connected families. Aligned with "The Cumberland Commitment: Strategic Plan 2026," CCS invests in cutting-edge curriculum resources and professional development opportunities to ensure every student's success. For more information, visit