May 16, 2024

SRPs push priorities at lobby day

Author: Ben Amey

School-Related Professionals from across the state arrived at the Capitol this week to lobby for a number of priorities relating to heat in schools, bus monitors, retirement systems and toileting. Members met with lawmakers to advocate for these important issues for SRPs statewide.

“One of the things I have seen in my travels is the incredibly important work that you all do,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person addressing the gathered SRPs before their meetings with lawmakers. “It can only be described as God’s work. You deserve respect, benefits and training to do that work.”

“Being able to use your voices and experiences is so powerful,” said Ron Gross, NYSUT 2nd vice president whose office oversees SRP issues.

One of the biggest pieces of legislation that was talked about was toileting and diapering regulations, including guidance and regulations for students, getting personal protective equipment including gloves, face shields and gowns for staff, and educating legislators that a lack of toilet training is a problem beyond pre-K and kindergarten students.

“The importance of this bill is to protect our members,” said Jo Ann Sweat, member of the Buffalo Educational Support Team. “You’re forcing us to do these things that are not part of our job description, and you don’t want to train us or compensate us at a fair and equitable rate. You’re putting our wellbeing, our family’s wellbeing at risk. You don’t know what kids come to school with; it’s a health issue.”

Other issues being lobbied for were asking schools to do an assessment on extreme heat in classrooms, having school bus monitors on every bus with drivers and updating the civil service exam process.

“Legislators, when we talk about heat, they say it’s just a couple of hot days in September and June and kids will get through it,” said Person. “This level of disrespect for students and educators is unacceptable.”

SRP Lobby Day - 2024

A smaller but no less important issue that was talked about was also the ability to transfer retirement systems in New York City. Some SRPs in New York City are in the Board of Education Retirement System, not the Teacher’s Retirement System. Legislation is being pushed to allow the 5,500 members the option to join TRS instead, calling it a more stable retirement system with better customer service.

“We’ve dealt with poor customer service over the years, we’ve dealt with errors,” said Thomas Ayrovainen, OTPT Chapter Leader with the UFT. “We want equity and parity with all the other SRPs in our building.”