Advertisement

Lawrence community members, PAL-CWA workers rally ahead of school board meeting

Share this post or save for later

Post updated at 6:23 p.m. Monday, March 28:

Community and union members united to rally ahead of the Lawrence school board meeting Monday.

Advertisement

Members of the Personnel Association of Lawrence – Communication Workers of America — the district’s classified staff union — gathered to call for the school board to pay all workers at least $15 per hour.

Nearly 400 classified staff members, including custodians, secretaries, paraeducators and food service workers, make between $11 and $13 per hour, according to a news release from PAL-CWA.

Members of the local activist group Save Our Schools 497 also rallied to call for the board to hit the brakes on budget cuts that would eliminate most of the district’s librarian positions. Group members have called for cuts to administration instead.

PAL-CWA is calling for the school board to save jobs including library media assistants, secretaries and custodians, as well.

“Our students deserve better than employees who are exhausted from working multiple jobs and stressed because we are unable to provide for our own families,” Hannah Allison-Natale, interim president of PAL-CWA, said in the release. “Likewise, many of our classified staff are parents of students in our district. Their children, who are also our students, deserve the stability of a parent with a living wage job.”

The school board was set to meet and make decisions on budget cuts at 6 p.m. Monday.

Here’s what some folks present for the rally had to say:

How would cuts affect teachers?

Hannah Hurst, Deerfield art teacher: “First of all, it would eliminate the extra plan time for classroom teachers every week, and that’s part of the master agreement. So that’s obviously an issue.”

Kelli Bates, Prairie Park third grade teacher: “Elementary teachers have 40% less plan time than middle and secondary teachers in the district, so there’s a big inequity there.”

Advertisement

How would cuts affect students?

Hannah Hurst: “Another thing is that it would limit kids’ access to resources and giving them the knowledge to access resources. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s not just about checking books in and out. It’s about digital resources. It’s about knowing how to be online, all those lessons, how to do that, and that will fall on us or whoever’s left.”

Kelli Bates: “Librarians in Lawrence have done an amazing job cultivating really diverse collections of books. We need that in our community.”

What would it mean if library jobs were cut?

Olive Minor, West Middle School eighth grader: “It would mean my mom (Jessica Minor, Woodlawn Elementary library media specialist) losing her job for one thing. So that’s pretty important to me.

“I really like my school library. I don’t have a lot of chances to just go to the public library because I don’t have a car. It’s a resource center. Losing that would not be good, especially since I’m going to high school next year. We just wouldn’t have those resources and people to help. “

Ebi Hegeman, West Middle School eighth grader: “My mom (Marisa Hegeman) will lose her job. She just started as a librarian at Free State, and she loves her job. So that’d be really hard.

“I love reading and libraries have always been such a safe space. Losing librarians might mean that they wouldn’t be available at all times. That would be really hard. Sometimes I go to work on projects but sometimes it’s just a quiet place to hang out. I think this would really affect everyone.”

If you could send a message to the school board or the administration, what would that be?

Olive Minor: “When we said ‘save our schools,’ we didn’t mean cut the libraries. They need to listen to what the employees are saying and not to the people making six figures a year.”

Ebi Hegeman: “I would ask them to please listen to what we’re saying. This is so important to us. Honestly, there are other options. This isn’t the best one.”

Andrea Albright / The Lawrence Times Lawrence community members and members of the PAL-CWA gather before the Lawrence school board meeting on March 28, 2022.
Andrea Albright / The Lawrence Times Lawrence community members and members of the PAL-CWA gather before the Lawrence school board meeting on March 28, 2022.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

More coverage of Lawrence Public Schools:

MORE …

Andrea Albright (she/her), reporter, can be reached at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Previous Article

Free State junior awarded 2022 Princeton Prize in Race Relations

Next Article

Free State High School associate principal promoted to principal position