School-Related Professionals have been called “the backbone of the public education system” and today, during a statewide snowstorm, there is plenty of evidence of that: They are the ones shoveling the school sidewalks, clearing off the school buses to take students home early and safely, making sure the heating systems throughout their district’s buildings are working, and so much more. They truly have the backs of the students.
“The shovelers are out there in the middle of the night and early morning,” said Sandra Carner-Shafran, who represents SRP’s on the NYSUT board. “They shovel and they salt in ice, snow and treacherous weather to make sure the facilities are safe for students and staff.”
Custodial and maintenance staff also work to make sure the floors are not slippery from so many people walking on them in wet boots. They make sure the boilers and furnace are working – a common concern in the harsh winter months. It is a concern that is more prevalent, Carner-Shafran said, since so many schools have had deep budget cuts and cannot afford new equipment or major repairs.
Today, many district announced they were closed before the school day began as snow struck early in some parts of the state. Others opened, but then had early dismissal. Reports came in fast and furious from all over New York, announcing everything from outright closings to no after-school programs. Districts in Brewster, Chester, Katonah-Lewisboro, Riverhead, Wanaque, Mahopac, and on up and down the Hudson were closing the doors early because of bad weather and the resultant dangerous travel. The snow started early in the Capital Region and western New York, meaning school schedules were altered for those schools that were not still on holiday break.
All of this means custodial staff, groundskeepers and maintenance workers are busier than usual. Bus drivers have to be on call for changed schedules, and they are charged with maneuvering snowy roads safely.
NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue describes the work of SRP’s in a video created for SRP Recognition Day, which is every November by state decree. She oversees SRP issues as part of her duties for the statewide union, and credits SRPs with being the “backbone” of public education.
SRPs are those people who are out there every day to make sure students are being served in all aspects of school. Once a year, they are honored on SRP Recognition Day, which you can read about here in a Syracuse online post.
So, be careful out there, and be sure to thank the SRP who gets your child home safely, shovels the walks for you so you can get into your classroom and helps students get out of those clunky winter boots.