District should value employees

Ihave a lot of friends who work for the school district, and an overwhelming consensus among them is a perception that they are not valued in their jobs — valued in terms of pay, openness in contract negotiations and being treated as members of the team.

I can understand the district’s need to really look at spending in preparation for some tough times, but let’s not forget who has first contact with our children.

District employees, from the teacher’s aide, the secretary, the cooks, bus drivers, teachers, need to be on board with the goals of the district and be included as part of the team. The district should definitely set the tone and direction, realizing they are in control of the ultimate goal, a strong education — but is this feeling of lack of value pervasive in the district?

Here is a problem with having 650 employees even feeling remotely undervalued. Many live in the school district, even having kids attending the schools. But if they are disgruntled and each one tells five friends about their concerns, how many votes are we going to fall short for the next bond or next levy? It could potentially be 3,250 voters that are hearing the message that employees are concerned.

I am really concerned if a teacher, a person who is going to shape the personality of my child, feels undervalued.

But there are perks working for the school district. The work year is shorter with at least a month of vacation in most cases. The work day is typically shorter, and the benefits package is typically better than in private industry. It is a choice to either work for the school district or work in the private sector, potentially making more money.

But the school district really needs to focus on team building, communication and fairness. We can’t afford to have any future bond or levy votes undermined by district staff who feel undervalued.

I also think that raising usage fees, non-essential program fees such as sports or club related programs is needed to offset dollars being taken away from the classroom. All of these are essential to a well-rounded student, but maybe we need to consider them to be self-supporting or at least work toward that goal. In tight times, all ideas are on the table. The school board and district staff just need to get creative.

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