Putting school kids’ health and safety at risk
More than our children’s academic opportunities are jeopardized by the budget cuts forced upon school districts by Gov. Rick Perry and the legislative majority. Our kids’ health and safety also are at risk.
Here are two examples coming to my attention. The first involves cafeteria workers in San Antonio ISD, and the second is about overcrowded school buses in Northeast ISD, another San Antonio district.
SAISD cafeteria workers are now required to double up as custodial workers, raising the threat of food contamination and serious illnesses being spread in the district’s cafeterias.
In addition to preparing and serving food, the food service employees also are cleaning and mopping the cafeterias and hauling garbage bags and trash bins to the dumpsters. They are doubling up because the budgetstrapped school district (that’s a redundant description these days) tried to save money by cutting custodial positions.
The San Antonio Alliance, TSTA’s local affiliate, has filed a grievance against the district on behalf of the workers, who also risk onthejob injuries for heavy lifting, pulling and pushing, which they didn’t sign on to perform
The most critical health risk, however, may involve the students who eat in the cafeterias each school day. With extra duties to perform, even the mostconscientious and careful cafeteria workers may occasionally get in too big of a hurry to perform adequate sanitation. And, SAISD may be one skipped handwashing away from a bunch of sick kids.
As outlined in the TV story linked below, buses in Northeast ISD are so crowded that some students have to sit on the floor, endangering their safety and even their lives in the event of an accident. Despite the pleas of parents and other safety advocates, the Legislature has never seen fit to order seat belts on most school buses, much less prohibit overcrowding. Districts were supposed to install belts on new buses, but the state cut the funding.
Now, heaven forbid, Northeast ISD is one bus wreck away from a potential disaster.
Budget cuts have reallife consequences, folks. The governor and legislative majority can pretend they don’t, but school employees – and school kids – know better.