School bus monitors have asked the Board of Education for a pay increase and better job training.
Sherman Katz, a bus monitor for six years, addressed the Board of Education on Dec. 14, 2017, asking for a raise and reinstated bus monitor training.
Monitors are employed by the school district, which contracts with M&J Bus, Inc. of Old Saybrook to provide student transportation.
Bus monitors are often the first and last contact a student has during the school day. They ride with special needs students of all ages in vans and school buses.
“We are required to do more than just sit and enjoy the ride,” Katz read from a statement to the school board.
Some of their duties include assisting students with getting on and off the bus, sometimes placing students into seats and securing the student in seat belts or car seats, interacting with parents and teachers and knowing how to react to physical interactions with students.
“Many of us have been punched, kicked, bitten, scratched and spit at by the students,” his statement said.
Katz spoke with The Citizen on Jan. 3. He said bus monitors are mostly older, retired and work part-time. For Katz, 77, being a bus monitor is a post-retirement job after a career in industrial management.
Bus monitors’ hourly rate of pay is $10.50. Their last pay increase was in 2015.
Katz said he works three to six hours a day, but the hours are staggered. He might go in at 6 a.m. and work to 8 a.m., then work from 11 a.m. to noon and then work from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., he said.
Monitors are paid only for time actually on the bus, and there’s no contingency pay if the ride is canceled or there’s a snow day.
Katz also wants bus monitor training reinstated. He said the training included how to safely restrain a student, how to speak to students and parents and the care, use and installation of seat belts and car seats.
“We have had no training in four years,” he said.
A school district transportation coordinator at one time did the training, he said.
“He saw to it we did our job properly and treated us fairly,” Katz said, “and saw that all training that was necessary was accomplished.”
Superintendent Robert Cronin said on Jan. 8 that a transportation coordinator position was eliminated four or five years ago.
Cronin said the school district is looking into the requirements for bus monitor training and how to provide it by working with M&J and the state Department of Education.
The school district and the bus monitors have a meeting scheduled in two weeks.
“They’re a group that can be overlooked, because they’re not in the (school) buildings or in the central office,” Cronin said.
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