Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Legislative News and Views - Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL)

Back to profile

Release: Minn. House Advances Bill to Support Hourly School Workers

Monday, May 4, 2020

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the COVID-19 response legislation for hourly school workers.

“During this challenging and unexpected time of distance learning, Minnesota’s school staff have stepped up in extraordinary ways,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), Chair of the Education Finance Division. “Recognizing the value that they create every day for students we propose holding school districts financially whole so that they in turn can keep their Education Support Professionals, bus drivers, food program and other hourly staff whole during any school closures related to the current public health crisis.”

“Our teachers and hourly school employees have never been more important to our children and our families,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “We need to ensure that all school employees continue to get paid through the end of the school year. They deserve economic security and our support — especially during these difficult times.”

The legislation provides compensation for hourly school employees and allows entities that contract with schools to provide services to be reimbursed for paying their employees, for changes in school employment practices as a result of COVID-19 related school closures and the conversion to distance learning programs.

“Our school employees — paraprofessionals, lunch staff, child care workers, bus drivers, and others — are front-line workers in the COVID pandemic, providing essential services to our students and families,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Like all Minnesotans, we need to ensure they have economic security during and after this crisis. Minnesotans are looking to us for help and we need to deliver.”

The bill also addresses school finance formula glitches resulting from the conversion to the distance learning model. The legislation creates and legislatively approves certain waivers of state law regarding assessments, graduation and course requirements, and potential licensure issues faced by prospective and current teachers.

“The relationships that are built in our schools between students and the professionals that support their learning are invaluable,” said Rep. Youkaim (DFL-Hopkins), Chair of the Education Policy Committee. “This bill is one step we can take to make sure that the hourly staff that provide crucial services to our students can continue to do so now and into the future.”

“It’s become obvious that’s it no longer enough to say “thank you” to the bus driver who got your child to and from school safely and now is dropping off meals and academic materials, the lunch lady who makes sure they get fed, or the aide who helps guide their education,” Rep. Davnie concluded. “We need to show those workers that we have their backs as they have our children’s backs every day. I encourage the Senate to act quickly in passing this bill.”

The legislation awaits action in the Minnesota Senate.