When it comes to emergency school closings, the Board of Education authorizes Warren County Director of Schools Bobby Cox to close schools in the event of hazardous weather or any other emergency which presents a threat to the safety of students, staff members or school property.
Recently, the board met to discuss this policy, specifically for classified employees and snow days. Classified employees are not teachers, but support staff workers.
“Classified staff come in,” said Cox. “Teacher’s assistants don’t come in, but if they are working 12 months like custodians, central office staff, or maintenance, they come in. They’re paid on a salary, but they still work those days because that is part of their time at work. Now, if it is too dangerous, I’ll tell everyone not to come in and we still pay them for that time because that’s not their fault because that’s the decision we made here.”
If school custodians don’t make it to school on a snow day, they are docked that day or they have the choice to take a personal or vacation day. However, Cox said typically principals try to work with them or allow them to make up the time.
Board member Tanya Bess was approached by a custodian and brought her questions to Cox’s attention.
“The lady who approached me said ‘Why doesn’t the school system value my life?’ ‘Why do I have to go to work on snow days?’ It can seem unfair,” said Bess. “Is it really productive and time well spent when they are at school with no children?”
Answered Cox, “I guess we could put in policy a certain number of days possibly, but for custodians that is when they clean the building, wax the floor and things like that. They are busy and they get things done when the kids aren’t there.”
Bess continued to ask if there was any way for those employees to accumulate days or if the board could add days to use for inclement weather only.
“They can build comp time, but they have to use it within a calendar year,” explained Cox. “That’s already in place through Financial Management, but it has to be approved on the front end to build it.”
Added board member James Bennet, “I think the idea is that principals just need to use a common sense approach to it. I know before, being a principal, if you work with all your personnel, they will be appreciative and they will do a better job.”
Cox said he didn’t want anyone to feel like they needed to risk their lives or injury to get in to work and he’d reiterate that at the beginning of next year.