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WCSD Underpays Critical Support Staff - Students Will Receive Subpar Service for 2022-2023

The punches just keep coming for the families in WCSD. Not only do we have a bus driver shortage crisis, but we also have massive staffing shortages in nutritional services, custodial services and special education. We are grossly underpaying these important positions based off current and competitive market conditions. During discussions at the April 12, 2022 Board of Trustee meeting, decisions were approved to cut service levels for our students.

Staffing Shortages Custodial / Housekeeping

Currently we have 59 vacancies for custodial services in WCSD. What is the problem? WCSD is paying anywhere from 5% - 26% less than comparable custodial positions in town. We need to pay our custodial staff competitive wages if we want them to apply or stay.

To remedy the situation, the WCSD Board accepted the Superintendent's recommendation to limit school vacuuming to one time per week. Not sure if you have volunteered in a classroom recently, but once a week vacuuming isn't ideal. This means many of our teachers will take this task on themselves to ensure a clean learning environment.

Staffing Shortages Nutrition Services

Remember the days of homemade bread smells coming from the cafeteria and lunch ladies cooking away to serve healthy home cooked meals? We do... and we mourn the loss of that experience for our children. It is now a prepackaged, microwaved meal meal. But it is likely to get even worse for 2022-2023 school year.

Currently, WCSD has 86 vacancies for nutritional services. We are paying 5%-20%+ less than comparable positions. We can't compete with the current environment with our pay levels. The solution the Superintendent offered up, and the Board approved, was:

  • Reduced menu offerings/limit creativity (this is just sad)

  • Reduced number of serving lines resulting in longer lines predominantly in the high schools

  • Very limited catering services

  • Additional work on staff with the potential end of ‘Universal Free’ meals

Staffing Shortages Special Education Aides & Assistance

The last, and most disheartening, shortages are in the area of Special Education Assistants/Aides. It is glaringly clear why we have such a critical shortage in this area as well. With the starting salary at just $10.72 compared to UNR Childcare at $15.04, why would anyone want the extremely difficult position of a Special Education Assistant/Aide?

There are 191 job vacancies as of April 8, 2022. How is this chasm of staffing shortages affecting our most vulnerable students?

The solution the Superintendent offered up, and the Board approved, was:

  • Adoption of new staffing guidelines (what does this mean)

  • Create positions with more hours and benefits (and SALARY)

  • Create consistency between levels and programs (streamlining can be good)

The District needs to set a series of negotiation meetings with the Washoe Educational Support Staff Bargaining Association immediately. Until the District is willing to pay competitive wages in these critical labor shortage areas, we will continue to be unable to provide the quality of education our students deserve and the law requires.

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