SpeakOut 5/9

Friday, May 9, 2003

Call 471-6636

I live on the upper half of the 800 block of William Street and we never get a Wednesday paper. Everyone on our street except the houses on the upper half of the 800 block of the street get them, even the abandoned houses. So why don't we?

This is concerning Sikeston Public Schools policy on paying employees. My wife works for the food services for Sikeston schools and they earn a little more than minimum wage. Now every Christmas vacation and spring break, they are off without pay; and the three months of every summer they are off with no pay. The Sikeston School Board refuses to let them draw unemployment for the summer. The employment office says OK but the school board refuses it. What is this all about? And they depend on the 200 or so workers to show up the following year to work. Now the school pays unemployment insurance, I am sure, so why can't the women draw on it during the summer months? The teachers draw a yearly salary which is considerably more than what the cooks make. Now are the cooks just not important to the schools? Well I would like to see the teachers try to teach hundreds of hungry kids. A lot they would achieve in the afternoons, I am sure.

My wife is considering a summer job to help out through the summer. What if every one of the food service workers found summer jobs and decided it was a job they enjoyed and decide to stay with it instead of returning to the school at the beginning of the following year? Wouldn't that be a mess, to hire 200 cooks and try to train them while school was in session? It's something to think about. I personally think the school board should get off their tightwad butts and show these women they are appreciated enough to keep them. All around the state of Missouri, other schools allow them to draw unemployment (except, of course, Sikeston). If anyone agrees with this, please SpeakOut or call the Sikeston Public Schools and voice this. I believe that our state representative should also hear this.

The Standard Democrat contacted the Sikeston Public Schools Central Office and their response is as follows: "Though some people in the district may choose to secure year-round employment, we seek to aid others who prefer less than year-round employment and/or find it desirable to work around their children's school schedules. For some, this is perceived as a benefit rather than a detriment.

"With regards to unemployment benefits, the Missouri State Law Section 288.040 states that services performed for an educational institution are not eligible for benefits if the employer provides reasonable assurance that the employee will be returning at the beginning of the next school year. At the very least, we do (and should) provide reasonable assurance to these employees that they will be returning to the school district at the beginning of the next school year in accordance with Missouri State Law.

"In addition, we employ approximately 50 food service workers rather than 200. Teachers are not contracted to work year-round, but are contracted for 190 days during the school year."