CHELMSFORD – School district support staff have launched a campaign in hopes of drawing attention to their role in the district and advocating for increased salaries.
“We started a campaign – the We’re Worth It campaign,” said Aamina Mian, paraprofessional, unit bargaining team member and school district manager.
Support staff members hope their campaign will raise awareness, with negotiations for a new three-year contract scheduled to begin early next year.
Support staff are part of the Chelmsford Teachers Federation professional support staff. Support staff include paraprofessionals, recreation helpers, secretaries and clerical staff, and cafeteria helpers.
Cafeteria helpers are separate from food preparation and service, but instead provide supervision and support to students during meals.
the current three-year contract date July 1, 2019 and expire June 30, 2022.
Many roles, duties
As a paraprofessional, Mian said, “What we do is support students in all academic subjects, in small and large groups, and in special education programs. “
Mian said, “At any time we can go from a small group to a one-on-one. Every classroom is different, but we are always on the move.
There are also paraprofessionals who work specifically with students in special education.
“In any given classroom … we can have between five and ten special education students, plus the students in general,” Mian said.
Paraprofessionals earn about $ 17,000 a year and secretaries less than $ 25,000, said Lauren Cochran, president of the Chelmsford Teachers’ Federation, in a press release.
“During the pandemic, support staff went above and beyond to ensure that the needs of students at Chelmsford were met,” Cochran said. “Along with teachers, they help children with physical and learning disabilities to be successful.
Team member Kathy Peluso said the roles of support staff have become increasingly complex. Peluso said team members cannot discuss terms, including any pay increases, they might request, due to ongoing contract negotiations.
Peluso said members are concerned about retaining the support staff the school district needs and the cost of living in the city.
When contract negotiations begin, Peluso said representatives of the support staff will meet with Superintendent of Schools Jay Lang and two members of the school committee.
Peluso said the team wanted to look at salary caps and pay according to contract milestones.
Talks should start
Lang provided a written response.
“Our school committee and administration have the deepest respect and appreciation for our support staff at Chelmsford Public Schools, whose dedication and professionalism has a profound and positive impact on our students every day,” Lang said.
Lang said, “We are confident that by working together we will succeed in entering into a long-term, fair and equitable contract that meets both the needs of our valued support staff – and is financially responsible to the citizens of our city. and the budget with which we are provided each year.
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