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As teacher raise quickly moves through legislature, educators ask for support staff recognition

Posted at 8:00 PM, Feb 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-24 23:12:22-05

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — From janitors and bus drivers to cafeteria workers, support staff are those working behind the scenes on every campus.

A bill giving teachers a pay raise is quickly moving through the legislature. But many educators are voicing support for proposals like Senate Bill 43, asking for all other school employees to get a raise too.

"We have lost support staff that have not been replaced, that have taken jobs elsewhere to make more money, and we've not had the funding to replace them," Union 8th Grade Center principal secretary Julianna Helt said.

Some face wages less than $20,000 a year.

"Most of us could go to Target or Chik-fil-a and make more money per hour than we make working in the schools. A lot of us stay in the schools because we like being with the children," Helt said.

Jonathon Sutmiller worked as a para-professional before getting his own classroom at the Union 8th Grade Center. He said now with class sizes up to 35, the extra help is a necessity.

"They make us better teachers. They help the kids. We've been writing a paper in my class and not joking at all it wouldn't be uncommon for their to be five or six hands up at one time," Sutmiller said.

Senate Bill 43 proposes a $1500 pay raise next year, and a $2,000 increase by the fall of 2020. Those on the front lines of the classroom said anything helps.

"Where it could be an honorable career that you can make a living at as opposed to probably penny pinching. Honor it for what it is, it's a noble job," Sutmiller said.

After the walkout support staff got a raise of $1250. Helt said this equals out to about $100 a paycheck.

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