By Tishea Lester
I have been a Community School Site Specialist (CSSS) since November 2019. I was so excited about my position and the opportunity to give back. I felt like I now had a career that is rewarding and fulfilling. Since the Pandemic forced schools to close on March 16th, 2020 and changed my usual job, I was given countless opportunities to give back and help the community in a resourceful way. On March 27th, positions as site leaders were developed for CSSS to service the 18 locations that were providing packets and meals for Baltimore City students. My colleagues and I volunteered to work at the sites to make sure our families in the community were serviced. We had no intention of getting extra pay to do the job that we loved and were passionate about.
On Friday, April 3rd, someone from the Baltimore Teachers Union contacted me with the message that the school district would be compensating on-site workers including CSSS. The BTU felt like we were putting our life on the line and wanted the district to compensate us for it. They realized that we had a big responsibility and it required a lot of our time and hard work during this risky Coronavirus time. The BTU wanted to compensate us for more than what Baltimore City Public Schools was offering. They also cared about our health and wanted to make sure we were protected and had the correct materials provided for us. I was included on many phone calls with the union leadership and the district as a CSSS representative. We were able to come to an agreement of $250 per week/$50 a day with protection equipment (gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap in bathrooms) as well as back pay. This was such a rewarding experience and made me feel like the BTU really valued and appreciated their members.