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School support staff struggle without paychecks during walkout

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Posted at 2:40 PM, Apr 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 05:32:16-04

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- The walkout is a chance for school support staff to make their voices heard.

But for some, it's also a time where they don't know where the next paycheck is coming from.

"A lot of our support staff are having trouble making rent, they're working two or three extra jobs and picking up extra assignments during this time. A lot of them are even getting food assistance," instructional assistant Michelle Curran said.
 
Employees from across the state are meeting with lawmakers, begging them to quickly find a solution.

"Am I going to have a job tomorrow or not? That gives the decision to have to look for work elsewhere so I can have something to support my family? Because I don't know how long it will be until I can go back to work," Edmond bus driver Ronda Peterson said.
 
Teachers say in the classroom support staff make their jobs possible, and getting funding for this group is part of the reason they've been at the capitol this long. Many are giving free rides to their fellow employees, and are surprised to be standing next to them day after day.

"You're giving up so much. You could have picked up something temporary elsewhere to pay your bills. But we have people who just really, truly believe in the fight," Jenks Middle School teacher Victoria Vargas said.
 
As it goes on, Jenks Public Schools has hosted fundraisers, asked for donations, and collected gift cards for support staff.

"I feel uncomfortable taking any of that. I don't feel very comfortable about it, it's just not a place I want to be. We all want to take care of ourselves and provide for ourselves," Curran said.

These employees will make up the pay as schools make up days later this year. Districts like Jenks are waiting until staff is back on campus to determine how quickly the school year will end.

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