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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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President Biden Tests Positive for Covid; Report: SD ethanol plants release hazardous air pollutants; Report: CA giant sequoia groves in peril after megafires.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

School Lunch Heroes? Workers ask for respect via higher wages

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Tuesday, May 7, 2024   

School districts around Washington and elsewhere may have celebrated School Lunch Hero Day on Friday, a salute to cafeteria workers - but food service employees are asking for more than just a pat on the back. They're asking for a wage that keeps up with inflation.

Washington State has about 6,500 school food service workers who make the average full-time equivalent of just over $54,000 a year.

Paul Buse-Bing is kitchen manager at Pine Lake Middle School in Sammamish.

"All the positions in the school district are important, and everybody works hard. But students who don't have a proper meal aren't getting nutritious food, then they're not capable of participating to their fullest extent in their school day. And so what we do is very important," he said.

This year, lawmakers denied a request from Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdahl to give paraeducators a $7/hour pay raise; in his re-election campaign he has said he intends to seek a more broad-based increase for classified workers next year.

Buse-Bing said as the cost of living has gone up, the relatively low wages are making it hard to find enough staff.

"We go through the school year a lot of times understaffed, and we don't have substitutes or other people to fill in when people get sick or go on vacation, and a lot has to do with the pay wage. Especially with the inflation," he added.

Many school districts say they are strapped for funding and need more state resources in order to
recruit and retain qualified workers.


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