Northport school district’s security greeters are on the verge of receiving health benefits — thanks in large part to the efforts of one of their own.
Diane Smith is in her seventh year as a greeter at Fifth Avenue Elementary School, and said she has never received health benefits, despite numerous pleas.
“Before this position was created, anyone could go to the office and often stroll right down to classrooms, creating a lot of interruptions,” Smith said in an interview after the meeting Thursday night. “We finally have some boundaries.”
Greeter’s duties include monitoring who is coming and going from school buildings, assisting in late arrivals and early releases and helping parents get forgotten items to the students, among other day-to-day tasks that may arise.
According to the district supervisor of security, the position of greeters was created about 10 years ago.
Over that time, the responsibilities of the job have changed, with greater emphasis placed on security in the aftermath of violent school-related incidents like the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“We [greeters] know the parents, grandparents and babysitters, as well as most of the personnel that visit our buildings,” Smith said in an email on Friday.
Smith said she has been working a second job to afford health care, while continuously searching for another job that would give her benefits, though she is hesitant to leave the Northport school district because she loves the job.
Smith said she has been expressing her desire for health care for the nine full-time greeters via letters and in person for years, to the school board and to district officials. She showed up on Thursday to take her campaign to the next level.
So far her efforts have been fruitless, but that could soon change.
“[The greeters are] going to get an opportunity for health insurance,” Superintendent Robert Banzer said during the meeting. “It just happened to be so ironic that she showed up today, because we just talked about it and kind of said, ‘Yes let’s go ahead and make it right and make sure they have an opportunity for health insurance.’”
Banzer attributed the delay in providing health insurance to the greeters to a switch from part-time to full-time designation.
Smith was skeptical when she left the meeting Thursday. She said it was more of the same rhetoric she’s been hearing since she began her battle.
However, as of Friday, she is approaching the situation with more optimism after receiving an email from Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Irene McLaughlin that established Jan. 19 as a meeting date for the greeters and members of the district to sit down and discuss health care options.
“I am very guardedly optimistic,” Smith said.