Update: Pandemic Pay for School Support Employees Passes Senate

Senate Bill 807 — a POE request bill — authored by Sen. Chris Kidd ensures that all school support employees, just like certified staff, will be paid in the event of a school closure due to a pandemic or other health emergency.

On Tuesday, March 9, SB 807 passed the Senate general assembly with a vote of 42-1. Previously, SB 807 was duel assigned to both the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee; it passed the former with a vote of 10-1 and the latter 18-0.

“This is a commonsense bill,” said Kidd, “It ensures school support employees, just like teachers and administrators, are paid in the event of a pandemic. It’s that simple.”

When public schools closed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and school administrators were guaranteed payment for the duration of the closure by state law. School support employees, however, had no such guarantee. In many cases, school districts ceased payment to support employees during the pandemic for constitutionality concerns. The POE legal team strongly advocated for the continued payment of support employees and worked with the Governor’s office to resolve the issue.

On April 2nd, 2020, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order ensuring that school support employees could be paid for the remainder of their contracts in spite of the school building being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister supported Gov. Stitt’s executive order stating, “This remedy was urgently needed. I thank Gov. Stitt for taking this action to ensure certainty for the cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, teachers’ assistants and so many others whose work is critical to our schools.”

To solve the problem for good, POE’s government relations team worked closely with Sen. Kidd to draft a bill that not only allows for school support employees to be paid for the duration of a health emergency but guarantees payment. Senate Bill 807 puts into law that support employees, just like teachers and administrators, are guaranteed payment in the event of a school closure due to a pandemic or other health emergency.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kidd continued. “It took an executive order by Gov. Stitt to ensure support staff would be paid. This bill preempts a similar situation. It protects school support employees by guaranteeing they are paid in the event of a pandemic.”

For some, a missed paycheck or two is an inconvenience, but for many, a few missed paychecks can be absolutely devastating — especially in the midst of a pandemic. We must provide the exact same security we provide for our teachers and administrators during a pandemic to our state’s 40,000-plus support employees!

SB 807 now heads to the House for further consideration. Rep. Rhonda Baker, chair of the Common Education Committee, is the principal author in the lower chamber.

Look for more Capitol Corner articles to stay up to date on SB 807 as it continues through the legislative process. And a special thank you to Sen. Chris Kidd! We are extremely grateful for his hard work and leadership on SB 807. We look forward to continuing our work together as the bill advances to the House.

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