Teaching shortages impact staff

As the school year begins, substitute and custodian shortages continue to affect the school and district.

Principal Dr. Emily McCown said when subs aren’t available, sometimes other teachers in the building have to step up.

“Our next move is to try and pull in a teacher on their plan period, and then they’re compensated for that time,” McCown said.

McCown said an initiative the district is taking to combat these shortages is ‘building subs,’ who are staff members who can intervene at any needed time.

“One of the things that they’re continuing this year is a designated building sub. That person shows up everyday to fill in for any last minute needs,” McCown said.

French teacher Kacey Schlotz said the solutions that Rockwood has implemented can be stressful for educators.

“Teachers feel like they have to come into school even if they are sick or their kids are sick because we are worried we’re going to be a burden to the rest of our department. When I’m sick and they can’t find a sub they will ask other teachers to fill in,” Schlotz said.

With the responsibility of subbing a class being transferred onto teachers themselves, Schlotz said time commitments have become a growing struggle.

“People don’t feel like they can take the time off that they’re afforded each year,” Schlotz said.

In addition, the past few years’ shortages have been an unexpected undertaking for custodial staff. Lead custodian Donald Jessen says they are doing as much as they can to get people on the job but their efforts aren’t always successful.

“We’ve done a lot of advertising through newspapers, online, and we’ve made it a lot easier for people to apply but

we’re not really sure what else we can do. No one’s really applying for the jobs right now,” Jessen said.

The custodial staff have been focused on the most essential jobs, with support from others in the building, Jessen said.

“Trash cans and bathrooms are our main priority right now and a lot of teachers are helping out. That’s the best we can do right now until we get more people,” Jessen said.

Schlotz said the administration gave teachers accommodations for keeping their own rooms clean amid shortages, but if the issues persist, there may be complications.

“Dr. McCown purchased vacuums for each floor because we might have to vacuum our own rooms,” Schlotz said. “If it’s going to become part of the teacher’s job, then that could become a problem with time commitments”