Staffing shortage: South struggles to hire


Jane VanSyckle , Staff Writer

South’s staff shortage continues to grow, and this time it’s at an all-time high..

Though the shortage of staff has been a problem for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the search for janitors and substitute teachers even harder. This issue is not only isolated to one building or district. Schools around Michigan and the United States suffer the same issue as schools in the Grosse Pointe Public School System.

Principal Moussa Hamka shared his concern with the issue, and the importance of how job positions at the school need to be filled.

“We are starting to see the national labor shortage start to impact our operations,and now we’re having a difficult time hiring custodians, lunchroom aides and cafeteria workers,” Hamka said. “We also have some issues finding skilled engineers that run our boilers and maintain our building.”

As a school in the middle of the pandemic, cleanliness is one of the top priorities. With a shortage of janitors, it makes this a lot more difficult to achieve.

“Our school is dirtier than it’s ever been, and it is starting to look unkept,” Hamka said. “As a district, we also have to examine how much our facilities are used by outside groups, like non-student groups that come in and conduct activities in our building.”

The limited amount of staff not only causes stress on the administrators, but also leaves the teachers at a disadvantage. English teacherSandra McCue shared her view on the situation, and how it has affected her this school year.

“We’ve had trouble getting subs for a long time- I think now it’s worse than ever,” McCue said. “Feeling that stress (that) if you need to be out for whatever reason, I think in general the teachers are good at keeping things going and filling in the gaps so that people don’t really notice that there’s a problem.”

Though this is a stressful time for everyone at South, the staff value everyone’s support and are hopeful for the future.

“We just appreciate everyone’s patience and the fact that sometimes things are going to take a little bit longer or some things aren’t going to be perfect and that’s going to be the result of always being short on staff and things like that,” McCue said.

Fellow English teacher Kevin Cox was also happy to share his outlook, and talked about the cleanliness of his classroom.

“Some things are getting better just even within the last couple of days, I think they’re doing what they can,” Cox said. “Occasionally we notice spills and spots that aren’t clean for a couple days, or aren’t swept routinely.”

This problem is national, and it is happening at schools everywhere. The South staff appreciates everything the current janitors and substitutes are doing for the district, and will continue to do.

“Everybody who works should have a living wage and be able to rest easily at night,” Cox said. “I’m hopeful that the district can be part of ensuring that all our employees are paid a healthy wage, and can take care of themselves and their families.”