DES MOINES, Iowa — Classes were canceled at Saydel High School on Friday due to a lack of available staff members.
Roughly one-third of the high school’s full-time staff — 16 in total — were absent Friday because of sickness, a sick family member or child care issues, according to Superintendent Todd Martin.
Martin said they have three full-time substitute teachers, but it was not enough to make up for the lack of available teachers on Friday.
The district hired the full-time substitutes for the first time ever this year to help with the prolonged challenge of staffing. Martin said they have come close several other times to having to cancel classes but had managed to get by until today.
Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek worries the cancellation is emblematic of a more widespread staffing problem across Iowa school districts.
“It could very well be the canary in the coal mine,” Beranek said. “Any time that we have to cancel school and remove a day of learning from our students and work from our employees, that is dire.”
While Beranek did not specifically speak to Saydel’s staffing and hiring situation, he said he has noticed a trend of educators starting to leave the field. He believes that gives school districts less room for adjustment in the case of a mass absence.
“We have fewer people entering the field, and we have new hires that are leaving earlier in their career,” Beranek said. “We have mid-career individuals who are thinking about whether they want to stay in the field or not, and we have people at the end of their career saying, ‘Enough is enough.'”
Classes were still on at Woodside Middle School and Cornell Elementary on Friday.