Living with less

Lack of staff continues to impact buses, classrooms


Samantha Haney

Because there were no applicants for the open study hall position, In-School Suspension teacher Dale Walker has been supervising the study hall room each day since the beginning of the year, and Student Restore Program teacher Whitney Ralph is supervising students in ISS. “It’s temporary. They’re looking for a permanent teacher to fill in, so they had me move here to have a constant person,” Walker said.

Samantha Haney and Daniel Carrillo

With multiple staff shortages in the district, and specifically at Lafayette, many tasks are either being left undone or having to be taken over by other staff members who are already loaded down with their own responsibilities.

Science teacher Shannon Campbell said having to take on additional responsibilities puts stress on everyone.

“I mean, the sub shortage, that’s probably the biggest thing — having to take over other teachers’ jobs if they’re not here,” Campbell said.

If a teacher knows ahead of time they will be absent, it is their responsibility to try to find another teacher to be paid to cover their classes during their off hours. 

But that means teachers are giving up their time to plan and grade papers or take care of other tasks during the day.

Subs are not the only area in short supply.  

Rockwood Maintenance Coordinator Bill Branson said LHS is supposed to have 16 full-time custodians, but currently there is less than half that number.

“Before, if you didn’t write save on your board [custodians] would have cleaned your entire board. Now, I don’t think they touch the boards,” Campbell said. “They used to clean everything daily, including disinfecting tables, but with the shortage, they don’t have the manpower. If you want your tables clean, you have to clean them yourself. The trash cans are taken out, but that is the only thing custodians can really do if they plan on cleaning an entire school.”

While trash removal, restroom sanitation and deep cleaning of the nurse’s offices are done daily, Branson said vacuuming, sweeping and mopping is completed on a rotating basis.

Of the district’s 201 total custodial positions, more than 50 are unfilled. 

Because there is a shortage of custodial workers, the district plans to purchase a special self-driving cleaning machine for Lafayette next summer. That machine is supposed to cut down on the amount of time and people needed to clean the floors.

There is also a shortage of cafeteria workers.

“We are short in over 50 positions in Child Nutrition. Lafayette currently has 11 open positions. Applicants tend to want to work in elementary schools, so those positions fill up first,” Child Nutrition Services Director Carmen Fischer said.

Because of this, Fischer said there has been a change in what they’re able to offer in school cafeterias.

“Our menu is more simplistic. We do not offer as many options and do not have the made-to-order deli sandwich line,” Fischer said.

Students have also noticed a slow down in the check-out process due to a lack of lines. 

Senior Aly Berens and freshman Giancarlo Fernandez both said they noticed the line at the right side of the cafeteria tends to be harder to get through. 

“A lot of people cut and there’s not enough computers,” Fernandez said.

Staff members and administrators are occasionally helping to work the lunch check-out lines when cafeteria workers are unable to fully staff them.

In addition, a bus driver shortage has created issues that the district has been working to resolve.

“We have a shortage of bus drivers that causes complications for activities, especially on days when all four high schools have a lot of transportation needs. There are only so many drivers that can pick up all the different teams at certain times,” Activities Director Jon Sumner said. 

Finding substitutes for coaches who need to miss school is hard since many need to leave early to get to events at the end of the day. And, for some sports, like golf, it is even more of a challenge.

“It has been tough since our tournaments are all during the school days. Golf courses don’t allow high school events on the weekends for the most part and we don’t have time to play 18 holes after school, so without subs we literally would not be able to have golf in high school,” girls golf coach Katrina Clark said.

She said she is sometimes able to find regular district subs for her math classes, but when she can’t, teachers in the math department help out by covering her classes.

The girls are responsible for getting themselves to and from events.

“The girls drive themselves to practice, tournaments and matches. Golf is a different type of sport since 100% of our practices and events are off campus. It would not be practical to get a bus every single day and our events take a long time,” she said.

While not necessary for her team, coaches can drive buses.

“Coaches have the opportunity to become drivers to help transport students to events. They get paid for the work that they do,” Sumner said.