BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Broken Arrow schools are getting a little extra help to cover staffing shortages.
It comes after the Broken Arrow City Council passed a resolution that allows city employees to work at a school until the end of the school year but still be paid by the City of Broken Arrow.
The goal of this partnership between the city and schools is to keep students learning in person.
“I believe I’m going to go drive a bus, I do have a CDL," says Ryan Baze, Director of Maintenance Services for the City of Broken Arrow. "So, the school has already talked with us they’re going to help us with getting a passenger endorsement and a school bus endorsement which are two endorsements I don’t currently have, but the school is going to set us up and help with training."
Baze normally oversees the city’s maintenance department but now he’s ready to get behind the wheel of a Broken Arrow bus.
His help is needed because at one point this month, Broken Arrow Public Schools had nearly 800 of their 2200 employees out sick.
Broken Arrow City Manager Michael Spurgeon says the mayor called him after talking to the school board president about how short-staffed schools were.
“From that discussion, I suggested that the notion of the city using city employees who volunteered to actually go in and assist with the positions with the primary focus on the support staff because I know looking at the synergies and the similar positions that we have," says Spurgeon.
Spurgeon says city employees interested in volunteering must fill out a form, do a background check, and then go through the training provided by the school district.
Once they go through that process and are approved, they will be temporarily assigned.
“There’s not going to be any additional compensation, it will be just as if instead of working here at the city, for example, my assistant decides to do food service from 11 to 1:30, it would be like she’s here but instead she’s being temporarily assigned to an elementary school to do food service," Spurgeon says.
The school district also needs substitute teachers and Spurgeon says they are doing everything in their power to help meet the need. Since Spurgeon comes from a family of educators, he plans on helping.
“I do plan on next week, filling out an application to be a substitute teacher," says Spurgeon. "I would love to do that and it’s very personal to me.”
The need is not only in the classroom but also in support staff which is why Baze is planning on helping at the bus barn.
“So I would encourage anyone that has an interest in driving a school bus or helping out if that’s a place they could fit in, it’d be great to come to join in,” says Baze.
Spurgeon says so far, more than 40 city employees and all five council members have signed up to volunteer.
He also says they will meet with the superintendent later this week to finalize details in hopes of getting city employees in the schools by February.
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