Omaha union says educators and staff need more than stipends

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The president of the Omaha Education Association says Emergency Relief Fund allocations for elementary and secondary schools are welcome after three years of uncertainty and burnout, but much work remains to do to support teachers and other school staff. Omaha Education Association President Robert Miller said the needs in classrooms go beyond wall hangings and books. He said the pandemic has exacerbated behavioral issues in the classroom. “All of a sudden we have kids in the class who haven’t had that peer interaction,” Miller said. Over the next two years, Omaha Public Schools plans to donate up to $4,500 per year to each full-time teacher and staff. “Our teachers are essential to teaching our children,” said COO Charles Wakefield. But, as a 20-year-old former teacher, Miller said teachers are unlikely to spend that money on themselves. “I believe it will likely come back to the classroom,” Wakefield said. “Teachers are always digging deep into their pockets to fund — a well-functioning classroom.” Wakefield said the district plans to use federal relief dollars to strengthen its workforce, reduce the growing size of classrooms and provide better social-emotional learning.” We have several initiatives to help us train teachers, so hopefully in the next couple of years , it will start to pay off, and we won’t have to worry about class sizes,” Wakefield said. “We won’t have to look at the great need for teachers and deal with the shortage of teachers that we are currently experiencing.” Miller said that while these stipends are a sign of progress, they are not enough to sustain educators and staff over the long term. term. “Are we at the point where compensation and salary are where they need to be? No,” Miller said. “But I think each district is trying to do its best to retain the staff that they currently have.” A Nebraska Department of Education spokesperson said schools have access to $50 million in mental wellness programs with the fund. Meanwhile, the state Department of Education has committed $300,000 for the Educators Rising program, which recruits high school students into education.

The president of the Omaha Education Association says Emergency Relief Fund allocations for elementary and secondary schools are welcome after three years of uncertainty and burnout, but much work remains to do to support teachers and other school staff.

Omaha Education Association President Robert Miller said the needs in classrooms go beyond wall hangings and books. He said the pandemic has exacerbated behavioral issues in the classroom.

“All of a sudden we have kids in the classroom who haven’t had that peer interaction,” Miller said.

Over the next two years, Omaha Public Schools plans to give up to $4,500 a year to each full-time teacher and staff.

“Our teachers are essential to teaching our children,” said COO Charles Wakefield.

But, as a 20-year-old former teacher, Miller said teachers are unlikely to spend that money on themselves.

“I think it will probably come back into the classroom,” Wakefield said. “Teachers always dig deep into their pockets to fund – a well-functioning classroom.”

Wakefield said the district plans to use additional federal relief dollars to bolster its workforce, reduce growing classroom sizes and provide better social-emotional learning.

“We have several initiatives to help us train teachers, so hopefully in the next couple of years it will start to pay off, and we won’t have to worry about class sizes,” Wakefield said. . “We won’t have to look at the great need for teachers and deal with the shortage of teachers that we are currently experiencing.”

Miller said while these stipends are a sign of progress, they are not enough to sustain educators and staff over the long term.

“Are we at the point where compensation and salary are where they need to be? No,” Miller said. “But I think each district is trying to do its best to retain the staff that they currently have.”

A Nebraska Department of Education spokesperson said schools had access to $50 million in mental wellness programs with the funds. Meanwhile, the state Department of Education has committed $300,000 for the Educators Rising program, which recruits high school students into education.

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