Budget, Teacher Shortage, Vision: 2020

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Dear JCPS,

I’m a former Lunch Office Assistant. My first placement was the elementary school where my daughter was a student.

A big chunk of my day was spent in the cafeteria, monitoring the lunchroom, I helped younger students open milk cartons and ketchup packets, I cleaned tables and swept floors, and did my best to kept the cafeteria on schedule. During the mornings and early afternoons I prepared materials for 4th and 5th grade teachers, and assisted the office with various tasks. The copy room had three outdated copiers that jammed daily. Repairs were a constant issue. If all 3 were down, some copies could be made in the office where the newest copier lived.

It wasn’t a fancy job, but it gave our family some additional income. I enjoyed seeing my daughter and her peers every day. I enjoyed the creativity demonstrated by our teachers. I really loved preparing the materials they’d use to teach students various subjects. It was also a very workable schedule and allowed me to pick up my middle schooler at 2:30. (The middle school was closer to us than our resides school by nearly 5 miles but transportation wasn’t provided….another frustrated email entirely). I made $11 per hour and worked roughly 18.5 hours per week.

One day about 2-3 months prior to the end of the ’14-15 school year the principal informed me that the school chose not to fund my position. He said there were other things the school needed. He explained this, along with the overstaff process while I was in the cafeteria cleaning tables after the lunch period. While the plant operator swept floors and nutrition service workers closed up the kitchen and all were in ear shot. I was humiliated.

A few weeks later the office installed a Mack daddy bad-ass copier. I was thrilled because I assumed the office’s old copier could scoot on down to the hall to the copy room and be the New Copier. Except it didn’t. The copy room didn’t have the electrical support for that copier. Who knows where that one ended up? Certainly not in the copy room where a reliable machine could benefit teachers, who would need it more than ever because the person whose job it was to make copies and prepare their materials was overstaffed. It could have helped the instructional assistants who, in addition to their normal duties, were now tasked with cafeteria duty to cover for the newly-eliminated LOA.

Dr. Hargens and the Board’s short-sighted management culture of poor-planning and deferred maintenance is trickling down to every role and copy closet in the district .

Those little part time jobs like mine used to be available at district schools were largely staffed by parents. Parents who are involved. Who might get to work a few minutes early to put in some time in the PTA office or stay a few minutes late to volunteer at an event. Those piddly 18 hours I worked saved 6 dedicated teachers about 2 hours each per week. Those extra dollars every month made our family just a little more financially secure.

But hey! That school figured out a way to save elevens of dollars a week.

Frustrated Parent

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