Due to COVID-19 and other factors, Park High School has faced staffing shortages in multiple areas. One of areas that has been hardest hit is the custodial department. The custodians have to work extra hard to keep our school clean. They still aren’t able to reach areas as often as they used to, with only two people working eight-hour shifts and one working five-hours.
Head custodian Debbie Miller is the only one working during the school day. She has been trying to hire another custodian, but nobody wants to work the night shift, she said. The current salary of $15 per hour is not enough for some applicants, she said.
The custodial staff cleans the McLeod field classroom and the Special Services building in addition to Park High. “We’ve got three buildings and got 2.5 people working, so it’s a lot of area to cover,” Miller said.
Miller and her crew have to rotate where they clean, so they clean the pods every four days. “We work our butts off,” she said. She added that students can help the custodians out by putting your water bottles and binders in your locker and picking up after yourself.
Some teachers have started asking their classes to help clean up common areas. Last week, Biology teacher Alecia Jongeward had her class clean the C-Pod. Spanish teacher Keaton Ramm offers students snacks if they help clean the floor in her classroom.
Another area around the school that is having staffing problems is in the classroom. Donna Fairchild, administrative assistant for Principal Dust, coordinates the substitutes in the building. Fairchild explains that staffing is really tight right now. “We really only have about two subs that are available to us,” she said, and they are working in other schools, too. “It’s been pretty hard to get anyone,” she said. Fairchild has been coming in early and staying late trying to make sure absences are covered.
Substitute teacher pay in the Livingston School District is $95 per day. Nearby Bozeman School District pays substitutes $114 per day, so as with other job openings in the district, the wages can’t compete with other options. At the Dec. 14 Livingston School Board meeting, the board will vote whether or not to increase substitute pay to $115 per day, effective January 1, 2022.
Jenny Stringer, administrative assistant for Superintendent Scalia and human resources manager for the district, said “We don’t have many subs on our sub list this year. So, it’s very limited. We are always looking, and we have been picking up a few here and there. Since COVID hit in 2020, our sub list hasn’t been where it needs to be.”
Stringer said filling certified teaching positions at Park High has not been an issue this year, but the district is having trouble filling the P.E/ Music teacher opening at Washington school. With the increase in Park County housing prices, Stringer thinks it will be hard to keep people here. If the teachers who live in Bozeman get a better offer, it could result in having fewer teachers available for next school year, she said. This year, she said the district was able to fill all classified positions except those in food service.
In the cafeteria, staffing has been a challenge. Food services director Michelle Carter said that usually, they would have 16 staff members working, but they only have 10-11 staff members. She explains that they don’t have any cashiers or a dishwasher. They have been trying to recruit people, but people want more pay.
Because of the shortage of staff, the food service program isn’t able to offer everything they usually offer. In the fall, the middle school was only getting sack lunches instead of hot lunch. At the high school, there is no salad bar.