Wayland school board hears pleas on behalf of support staff

Several people in the audience at Monday night’s Wayland Board of Education meeting questioned the school district’s policy of attempting to avoid paying health care benefits for some of the lowest paid employees.

The suggestion was that the schools may be penny wise and pound foolish in cutting hours and numbers for support staff, thereby weakening the front lines in the battle for quality classroom experiences and against playground bullying.

Jan Goodwin, president of the support staff’s union, told the board that aides in reading and math intervention “are on the front lines in reading and math instruction with our children every day… But it’s difficult when the children’s circumstances change and classroom sizes have increased.”

Goodwin said a majority of the aides work fewer than 30 hours per week, so they don’t qualify for health care benefits. She urged board members and school officials to visit the classrooms themselves to get a first-hand look.

“For about $13,000 a year, I think you’re getting a pretty good bang for the buck,” she said.

Leslie Gonzales, an aide at Dorr Elementary, told the board, “We need to set budget limits. What’s good for us at home is good for our schools… We need to be more financially fit before we take on loans.”

Gonzales said she questions why some school personnel are being cut while others are getting raises.

Longtime aide Kay Herp added to what Goodwin said by suggesting board members come out to the elementary playgrounds.

“We are having to deal with bullying, but now our hours are being cut back,” she said. “We ask you guys to come and walk in our shoes.”

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