Delaware City Schools pushes through employee shortage


Danica Davelli

A sign at the bus garage asks for help from fellow bus drivers staffing the busses.

Danica Davelli, Staff Writer

Delaware City Schools is facing a shortage of employees throughout the district. The main cause of this shortage is the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the transportation department.
“We’ve lost a lot of drivers,” Transportation Supervisor Butch Rice said. “Some of them have resigned because of it. [Another thing] is just trying to get people to come to work.”
Rice is in charge of making sure that the transportation department runs fluidly every day to get all students where they need to be. Working closely with the bus drivers, he has seen the effects of the shortage on the current bus drivers. The transportation staff has handled the situation well.
“They understand what we’re going through,” Rice said. “They also see that all of us are out there with them, trying to get students where they need to be.”
However, the transportation department is not the only part of the district affected by this shortage.
“It’s not just drivers, it’s custodians, lunch workers, maintenance workers and teachers,” said Jason Sherman, the Director of Facilities and Transportation for the district.
In the school building, the biggest shortage is of substitute teachers. Some are afraid to come to work for various reasons.
“Many substitutes were older, and maybe didn’t want to come into this environment,” Hayes High School Principal Ric Stranges said. “Many substitutes were afraid of Covid.”
All around, the situation has caused a feeling of stress throughout the district.
“Everybody is under much more stress,” Sherman said. “You see more stress in the students, you see more stress in the teachers and the administrators and the bus drivers and the custodians.”
With the shortage of employees, current staff members have been expected to step up and go above and beyond.
“We’ve also had maintenance workers helping out with the custodial duties and the lunch rooms,” Sherman said. “And you might even notice that people like Mrs. Kegley or Mr. Heath or Mr. Cook are filling in for principals or teachers from time to time in the buildings.”
Sometimes, teachers in the buildings had to cover classes that were in a different subject area than the ones they taught, which caused a disruption in the learning process for students.
Despite the heightened expectations, all staff members have been helping in whatever way they can to make Delaware City Schools a great district.
“One thing about Delaware City Schools is everybody rolls up their sleeves and pitches in when they have to,” Sherman said. “We’re always helping each other out and doing extra.”
Delaware is not the only district facing this issue. Almost all other districts in the area and nationwide are struggling to staff their schools. However, this has brought all of the staff of Delaware City Schools together and kept them all humble.
“It’s a small enough district where you know people and you feel connected,” Sherman said. “We’re not some lofty people that you’ve seen the name and never seen the people around.”
Regardless of any problems the district faces, the staff is overall extremely understanding and are grateful for the opportunity to work at DCS.
“Delaware City Schools is a great place to work,” Rice said. “They are very good to work for and it’s been great to work here.”