The job title varies from one school district to another, but most “Noon Dutys” — as part-time playground supervisors or noon duty aides are often called – are women working five days a week for two or three hours a day. They are often the lowest paid employees on campus.

Current law blocked most noon dutys from classified status, but that changes on January 1. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 670 by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), giving a leg up to about 1,500 part-timers across the state.

“Part-time playground employees deserve the same protection and benefits as classified employees,” Thurmond said.

Lawndale Federation President Carl Williams said this is the moment to sign up new union members. “So many noon dutys don’t get sick days or health benefits. Take this opportunity to organize them.”

Classified-to-credential program expanded

In 2016, the CFT proposed a teacher credentialing program for classified and paraprofessionals to raise their income, diversify faculty ranks, and help fill the teaching shortage. Legislators included $20 million in the 2016-17 budget to provide 1,000 public school staff up to $4,000 per year while earning four-year degrees and credentials. 

The CFT responded to broad interest in the program by advocating for increased funding. Legislators, in turn, allocated $25 million in the 2017-18 budget.

Under the Classified Employee Teacher Credentialing Program, districts and county offices of education that receive state grants must notify their classified employees that funds are available. Those applicants chosen locally will receive award grants for tuition and books.

Free first year of college awaits funding

Gov. Brown also signed AB 19, allowing first-time students to attend community college tuition free for the first year if they are enrolled full-time. Implementation is delayed, however, until the Legislature appropriates $30 million to cover first-year program costs.

At $46 per credit, California’s community colleges are one of the country’s best bargains. Educational and living costs, however, are often too steep for students, especially from low-income families. About half of the system’s 2.3 million students already receive fee waivers because of financial need.