As you’ve seen, teachers are the topic when we talk about school funding but the problem is much bigger when we address needed staff to support our schools and the education of our children.
For instance, think of your school secretary. She/he is the welcoming center of the school, the person with all the answers that families turn to with questions. Her paycheck is pathetic and very few people can take this job if they haven’t “married well” or are independently wealthy. She deserves more from us.
Take the position of paraprofessional. They do one on one work with children in collaboration with our teachers and are often the support system for our children in special education programs. This is another low hourly wage position that we have an extreme need for. Some of the positions we need to fill are vacant, because of the extremely low pay we are stuck with offering due to low funding. These positions are also not full-time. Again, most of our paras are married with a second family income, allowing them to do the work they’re passionate about. Imagine those we might attract to these positions if the pay were increased. They deserve more from us.
Think of the “lunch ladies” aka food services staff. They ensure that hundreds of children receive lunch each day and oftentimes breakfast as well. They coordinate feeding hundreds and preparing the foods during a very short time frame each day to ensure class time is never interrupted. Many of them are on public assistance as they do not have adequate pay nor do they have hours sustainable to pay their own bills. Most work several jobs. They deserve more from us.
Now consider our safety and security personnel. These are the people who would stand between your child and imminent danger. We ask them to risk their own safety and their lives but we offer extremely low pay. Again, we have these valiant staff members responding to 16,000 calls in an 8 month period of time but our compensation is lower than what neighboring districts and law enforcement positions offer. They deserve more from us.
Parents in Summit County are upset about bus drivers not being available. Well, in Jeffco we have the same problem filling these positions. Any parent who has driven the carpool can tell you how difficult transporting a car full of children can be. Multiply the number of children in your car to that of a bus capacity and ask someone to transport them all daily and be responsible for their safety. New employees receive the certification and training and then are fantastic candidates for employment with RTD and other entities who pay them much better. They deserve more from us.
Those are just a few of the classified staff positions, people who serve our children and take care of them daily. They all deserve more from us.
Finally, let’s talk about our administrators. They’re being attacked as the individuals who are paid too much. Yet, in Jeffco, we have about 4% administration. Lower than nearly every district in the state. To be honest, these staff members are doing (and have been doing) the work of two to three people for quite some time. They also can easily leave Jeffco and be paid anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 more per year. Many have done exactly that as they have families to take care of. These people advocate for their staff. They organize grants for the district. They organize curriculum and teacher/classroom supports. They oversee services for our special education, Title I, GT, FRL, ELL, and 2E students, as well as many other programs. The organize and ensure the supports we can provide are available. They also deserve more from us.
We applaud the dedication and commitment of all Jeffco staff members and thank you for your service. Individually, all we can provide is a thank you. Together, we can make a difference in the future of Jeffco Schools when we vote to Support Jeffco Kids and all Colorado kids, because school funding is not just about 86,000 students but about more than 900,000 students. It’s also about 14,000 employees and who can afford the commitment to stay in Jeffco.