• Fri. Aug 5th, 2022

Letter to the Editor: Time to Invest in Academic Support Staff at ISD #186 – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

ByJulie J. Helfer

Aug 5, 2022

I am writing on behalf of the employees of ISD Local 284 #186: cafeteria, clerical, custodial, school nurses and paraprofessional staff.

This group from the Pequot Lakes School District is among the lowest paid school employees in Minnesota.

For the past two years, Local 284’s wage increases have been $0.26 per year. The previous two years, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, were frozen at increases of $0.00.

Patriot pride? It doesn’t feel like everyone is included.

Our jobs are rarely easy, but we chose them to touch students’ lives: feed them, heal their scratches, keep their workspaces and bathrooms clean, enrich their lessons, and so much more.

We do jobs that many say they couldn’t or wouldn’t do. We know we’re not going to get rich as public servants, but ISD #186 can and should do better.

Meanwhile, our students always receive the best of what we have to offer emotionally, academically, professionally and, frankly, lovingly.

I will share that I earn $17.52 per hour as a high level chief secretary with 12 years of service in ISD #186. And I’m better paid than most of our Local 284 employees.

We had hoped this would be a year of bargaining where the Board would defend, and unapologetically recognize the value of its uncertified staff, especially given the world events of recent years.

Our work is instrumental in continuing the high quality education that ISD #186 offers and its families expect.

It’s time to focus on employees who are fundamentally as valuable as bus drivers, teachers, administrators and district office workers.

In a show of support, please email or call our Pequot Lakes School Board members and Superintendent Stumpf. Contact details for board members are available at


Carrie Chiodi,

windy point

On behalf of Local 284