Snow Days Mean No Pay For Some Support Professionals

From Maine to Michigan to Montana, nothing brings a smile to Snow Belt students’ faces faster than a snow day. But these unscheduled interruptions to the school year have a dark side for many hourly and per-diem education support professionals, who may experience lost wages and lighter paychecks when school is canceled.

Lost wages from snow days was a recent topic of discussion on the official National Education Association Facebook page.

“Where I live, snow days are treated just like holidays that occur on Tuesdays or Thursdays,” said Nevada ESP Charles Parker. “We’re required to use a vacation day, or lose a day’s pay. An unpaid day then affects your state retirement.”

ESP Janette Duart said she also has had to use personal days to keep from losing pay on snow days. And losing even one day’s pay can be devastating for ESPs, who are often not paid a living wage and frequently live paycheck to paycheck.

And not all ESPs have vacation days and personal time they can use to ensure they are paid on snow days. Particularly for part-time or per-diem workers, a snow day means lost wages and difficult financial decisions.

“Many ESPs are hourly employees — such as aides, monitors, food service and others — who lose a day’s pay when there is a snow day,” said Margaret MacCartney, a long-time ESP who now works for NEA affiliate New York State United Teachers on behalf of ESPs. “These employees, who typically are on the lower end of the pay scales, really count on their paychecks. They really feel the pinch when they lose a day’s work to weather.”

Nancy Juliano is a teaching assistant from Syracuse, NY — and if there was a city that invented snow, Syracuse may be it. ranks Syracuse as first in the nation for average annual snowfall for cities with populations in excess of 50,000.

While Juliano is proud that her union has been able to negotiate snow days for ESPs, she points out that part-time, per-diem and non-permanent workers still feel the pinch.

“We have substitute teaching assistants, for example, who won’t get paid when school is closed for snow days,” she said.

NEA and its affiliates have aggressively campaigned for better salaries and benefits for ESPs, and believe all ESPs should be paid a living wage. More information about NEA’s advocacy on behalf of ESPs is available at

  • I work in a school cafeteria, we were out a week for snow and didn’t get paid. So we only got paid for 3 weeks instead of 4, I barely made the mortgage. I would have liked to have used some of my accumulated sick days to compensate for the loss.

  • I work as a T.A. and yes we lost wages due to two snow days. My paycheck is much smaller because of it and this is the second time we had snow days. It is very hard to get caught up and very hard to pay my bills. I am single so no one to help make up the difference. Oh ya made us take cuts ,but the board gave raises to the administration. Which in my opinion should have declined the raise. I also think that we should be allowed to take sick days or personnel days to cover the loss.

  • Sara

    In my current school district, any days we miss must be made up on holidays or by tacking days on at the end of the school year. In my former school district, there were 5 extra days built into our contract that we were not paid extra for to accommodate for snow days and after that we made them up on holidays or by tacking days on at the end of the school year. I have never heard of a school district that treats them as a “paid holiday”. The time is definitely made up elsewhere.

  • Sara

    **”unpaid holiday”**

  • Justin

    Last year we had so many snow days in our district that in order to make up the time we added 30 minutes to the schooldays remaining in the year. Long-term subs were not paid for the snow days but were mandated to work those extra 30 minutes per day — without additional compensation.

  • Bonnie Showers

    I am a cook at my school. And when there is a closing because of snow ,I to do not get paid. Do not have any options like using sick days or personnel days you’re just out. And they also have so many snow days already set into the year that we as hourly workers won’t get a chance to make up at the end of the year. Another BIG hangup I have is 2 hour delay and or getting to the school and they cancel due to weather. I made it there under bad conditions, they cancel 2 hours later and again I’m out the wages. I feel I should get the days pay.

  • laurie piquero

    i am a teacher in pennsylvania. i don’t get paid for snow days either.
    i get paid for working 186 days. any snow days we don’t work we have to make up at the end of the school year.

  • Teachers do not get “paid” for snow days either. We get a salary based on 186 days per year (6 professional devel days included at my school). If a day is missed for snow, we also need to make it up. Holidays are not “paid” either. We adjust the length of the school year to make up the 186 days. No freebies here.

  • Vicki

    I am a teacher who backs and values our support staff. At this time administration is taking lessons from the business world: big box stores and local grocers! Almost all of our support staff members have been/or will be reduced to part time. No more benefits for them. Is this in the best interest of our students, especially the special needs students who take extra care and thrive on continuity??? OF COURSE NOT!!!

  • That’s why I’m glad I don’t work for suppor staff anymore. It’s either a regular teaching position or I’m leaving my career. I got bills to pay!!

  • Pingback: » What Teachers Really Do On Snow Days()