(WTXL) — As Governor Ron DeSantis pushes for teacher raises and a new bonus program, other school employees are struggling and say they are tired of being ignored.
Bus drivers, teacher assistants, cafeteria workers and custodians, just some of the positions that are part of the backbone of our local schools.
"Without the bus drivers, children don't get to school. Without the custodians, you don't have a clean environment and without food service, they don't eat," said Regina Munroe, President of Gadsden Educational Staff Professional Association.
Full-time workers, just like teachers.
"We do a lot of the work supporting teachers, and other staff, as well as the kids," said Lissa Stevens, President of LESPA.
Who say they are grossly underpaid.
"Some of our food service workers, they bring home maybe $800 a month," said Munroe.
Munroe says it isn't uncommon for many schools support staff to juggle two or even three jobs to pay their bills.
They say the focus in government and the public eye is only on teacher raises, but they should be included as well.
"They talk about teachers do this and do that, but they never talk about what we as ESP's do - how we are a big part of the equation," said Stevens.
Stevens says support staff, just like the teachers, all work together, equally for the common cause, which is the children. She says if the pay problem isn't addressed, just like the teacher shortage, Florida will see a serious shortage of school support staff.
"It needs to take priority. So we should be right there with the teachers. Whatever they get we should get, said Munroe.
Governor DeSantis' proposed state budget for the next year includes spending an additional $1 billion on teacher raises.
He wants to raise the minimum salary for all classroom teachers to $47,500 and create a new bonus program for teachers and principals.