School Closings Impact Cafeteria Workers And Custodians Too

May 15, 2018

A total of 38 school districts will be closed for classes Wednesday while thousands of teachers march to the Capitol to call for better school funding. Some schools will hold an optional workday, with limited operations. That means many hourly employees, like cafeteria workers or bus drivers, could miss out on a day of work.

Despite the potential loss of hours, some hourly school employees stand in support of teachers.

Deborrah Bailey is a custodian at Durham Public Schools who spoke during a recent school board meeting to urge board members to close schools for the rally. Bailey said that when she was growing up, she thought teachers were respected. She also said she appreciated that Durham public school teachers had supported hourly workers in that district in their recent fight to win in-house contracts.

"And so, today, for our teachers not to be able to basically have supplies in their schools and things that they need, to stand up and fight for their rights. That's why I'm here to support them," Bailey said.

While the widespread closings could affect many hourly school employees across the state, some will certainly still be coming to work. Wake County Schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten said Wednesday will be an optional day for many of that district's employees. Luten likened the schedule to a snow day.

"So teachers do have the option of coming into the building, and then we also will be doing some food preparation and running the buses for many students," Luten said. "There will be some employees that will not be coming in to work, but there will still be a significant amount of employees that will be working."

Wake County Schools will bus students who have Advanced Placement testing. Meanwhile, maintenance workers will take the opportunity to make repairs in the near-empty schools and some cafeteria workers will serve lunches to students who rely on the federal lunch program. Luten said some hourly workers have also requested the day off to take care of their school-age children.