The Indian River School District is hiring! Checking out the electronic billboards, the job-posting websites or the social media posts, one can see the push for qualified educators and school staff is really in full swing in the district.
For example, there are four facilities positions open including a chief custodian at Millsboro Middle School. There are five instructional or teaching positions, plus a substitute teacher job, available. Two of the positions are for special-education teachers, at Indian River High School and Southern Delaware School for the Arts. There are two food-services job openings within the district.
In total, there are 20 positions and three substitute part-time positions now open.
At the last Indian River School District Board of Education meeting, the total student body enrollment was updated to 10,675 students — meaning the need for more teachers and staff is becoming mission-critical. IRSD submits its enrollment figures — up about 83 students from last year — to the State of Delaware for a calculation on hiring decisions. The largest district enrollment was two years ago, in 2019, when Indian River schools hit 10,942 students.
“We still need a math and science teacher, and are still recruiting for math/science at Millsboro Middle School, so if you know anyone qualified, please send them our way,” said Michele Murphy, personnel specialist at the school district offices in Selbyville. Murphy indicated that several teaching positions for English teachers were being filled as the school year started or were in active recruitment already.
“We need bus drivers to get our kids to schools,” said Murphy. “That is a statewide issue right now.” There are two full-time openings for bus drivers in transportation, with a substitute position open, along with two bus attendant or aide roles.
The Indian River School District is geographically the largest education system in Delaware, covering more than 360 miles. The Indian River School District serves residents of Selbyville, Frankford, Dagsboro, Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach, Ocean View, Millville, Clarksville, Gumboro, Millsboro and Georgetown, and unincorporated areas in between. Moving students from their neighborhoods to the schools is a major logistics issue.
“Social media has been a godsend,” said Murphy of the effort to fill the empty positions. “It is the quickest way to get the word out. Our communications director has been instrumental, and we are using Facebook a great deal to recruit,” she added. “Parents will tag each other’s friends who may be former teachers or facilities people ready to work.”
Transportation is a major roadblock
Transportation is a concern in the area, both for the public at large and for the district. In fact, at the last IRSD board meeting, Shante Hasting, deputy secretary and chief engineer for DelDOT, provided a report on nearly $1.2 billion in state funding for area roads due to anticipated growth over the next six years. Some $500 million is being designated for Route 113 and the Sussex County corridors.
Hastings provided IRSD board members with a traffic study that includes widening Dagsboro Road, as well as Route 113 and Route 20, to accommodate more traffic, including school children.
Board President Rodney Layfield said he believes the DelDOT budget should be a partnership.
“As a school district, we are always worried about costs,” he said. “It is awesome to see the money being allocated and spent where it is most needed. We are just interested in making sure we are not footing the bill.”
Hastings responded, saying, “You at IRSD are responsible for your share based on the traffic study and additional traffic from the new schools coming on.”
Enrollment numbers not yet finalized
David Maull, IRSD public relations specialist, said the final enrollment number remains somewhat fluid. “But as you can see, it’s rebounded slightly this year.”
“Until the unit count is officially certified, likely in the next month, we won’t know what the impact will be on hiring,” said Maull. “Any additional positions resulting from the unit count will likely not be posted until November or December.”
“As you can see from the website, we do have a large number of positions posted currently,” said Maull. “This is basically normal hiring that takes place throughout the school year.” This school year, he said, “The number of positions is higher than usual, due to factors such a retirements, resignations and people who accepted a position in our district and then left for a position in another district.”