I got an e-mail this morning from Montgomery County school bus driver Sheena Foreman, urging me to pay more attention to the financial burdens placed on the service employees in the school system. Montgomery County has 22,000 employees; only about half are teachers.

Foreman agreed to let me share her letter with you.

Hello, my name is Sheena Foreman and I am a bus driver for MCPS. I have read many articles over recent years concerning our budget crises, lack of raises, benefits, and our unions. I always have one bone to pick with the reporters, their focus on the conversation, and the headlines of the articles on the topic. Today I read your article and it was entitled “Pay raises sought for Montgomery teachers”.

I plead with you and your colleagues, stop just referring to teachers. They are not the only employees that have suffered. We all are a part of the school system. We have all had to go without. And many of the school systems employees make nowhere near what many of the teachers make.

(Ben Garvin, For The Washington Post)

At the beginning of this school year, many of us faced cuts to our routes. So imagine my surprise, when I returned to work in August and my hours dropped from 80 to 53 hours. But my benefits and deductions remained the same.

I know Montgomery County is an expensive place. I was born and raised here and it pains me that I cannot afford to live here, but I do. I go crazy when citizens complain about raise increases. Part of the reason is that they only hear about teachers, who get paid well in MCPS. But [for] service employees, who on the most part do not make as much as teachers, what is 2% of $25,000 to $30,000 a year? And how far will it go in MoCo?

These employees are the forgotten. But we live here and our kids go to school here. We want to be here. And on another note before I go back to my route, teachers are salaried workers who have numerous professional work days they get payed for. Some of the 10-month service employees are what amounts to be furloughed on those days because we do not get paid when we’re off. We don’t get paid for at least 2 Jewish holidays and we have to work on Veterans and Columbus day.

So please, next time, try doing an article from a different prospective. Many employees don’t have the exact same plight as the teachers. So to only refer to teachers is a little unfair.

Sheena Foreman

MCPS bus driver

For 8 years