FL School support staff deserve COVID-related bonuses, too!

FL School support staff deserve COVID-related bonuses, too!

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Valerie Cohen started this petition to Governor Ron DeSantis

Schools simply cannot operate without support staff.

While everyone is always quick to sing the praises of teachers, support staff are *absolutely vital* to the successful operation of schools, and most often remain the unsung heroes, forgotten as their jobs seem to just get done. Perhaps this is how the support staff of Florida schools weren’t given raises or bonuses associated with COVID-19, while teachers and principals were presented with multiple financial graces and bonuses; Maybe school support staff were simply once, twice and thrice over-looked? By my count, there have been two sizable checks to teachers, and two raises as well, while support staff have received nothing beyond our previous standard compensation, despite the unprecedented time we have served through, day in and out.

No one can dispute that teachers are praiseworthy, and it’s understandable that they’re at the forefront of peoples minds when thinking about school staff, as the primary mission of schooling is to educate. However, without custodians maintaining the schools, schools wouldn’t be clean and appropriate places for our children to learn… without transportation staff (bus drivers, bus aides, mechanics) students wouldn’t arrive to the schools, at all… without food and nutrition staff, students wouldn’t have the snacks and meals necessary to fuel their learning… without school office and building support staff, schools couldn’t do the many forgotten things that must be done when thousands of children go off to school every day.

Governor DeSantis, I beseech you to remember that school support staff perform absolutely vital duties that enable our schools to carry on, even in COVID’s most difficult times, and many school support staff do these duties at pay rates starting as low as $10 per hour; Continually watching teachers and principals receive raises and bonus compensation, while support staff are forgotten, is demoralizing for support staff and perpetuates the myth that support staff are less vital to school operations than teachers, which feeds into societies false notion that only the college-educated should be considered professional and well-respected. As a school bus driver whose best friend is a first grade teacher, I’m here to tell you that we’ve each come to realize that we could not do the others job. If you’ve ever driven your own children some place, and struggled to maintain safety and composure while refereeing a sibling argument, please remember that school bus drivers are responsible for safely transporting the worlds most precious cargo, 45… 55… even 85 kids at a time, while operating heavy machinery, too! We service the unique needs of countless children with special needs. We wipe noses, clean vomit, tie shoes, and teach a fair amount of basic life-skills lessons, and were and are every bit and more virally at-risk as any teacher or principal, as we transport from 200-500 kids per day, and would appreciate the same financial recognition afforded to our higher-paid cohorts. School support staff need the bonus monies, and deserve it every bit as much as teachers and principals.

There is a nationwide critical shortage of school bus drivers, and I fully believe this situation is exacerbated by people leaving the field because of the lack of respect and compensation; While many may be able to be taught to drive a large vehicle, it’s a complex art form to be the opener and closer of a childs school day, responsible for maintaining their health and safety, while operating heavy machinery within a dynamic traffic-environment, with unpredictable conduct of the precious cargo themselves.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
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