FRANCONIA — The 150 members of the Souderton Area Educational Support Personnel Association have a new three-year contract.
“When you come to a negotiation, that’s it, it’s a negotiation. We want to bring the fairest outcome to all parties involved,” Souderton Area School Board Chairman Ken Keith said while thanking the bargaining teams from both sides at the April 28 meeting during which the board approved the new contract.
“It’s not an easy process. It is not a short process. It takes time,” Keith said, “but I think indeed a good effort has been resolved.”
Workers covered by the contract include teaching assistants, special education assistants, cafeteria and playground assistants and other support positions, Deputy Superintendent and Director of Human Resources Christopher Hey said.
“The council and the association entered into negotiations in January this year and worked together to settle a contract that made new investments in employee wages while respecting our local taxpayers who provide the majority of our revenue” , Hey wrote in response to an email. request for additional information on the contract which runs from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2025.
“For example, the district employs over 80 assistants who serve students with special needs. The new contract increases the starting wage for this group of employees from $14.40 per hour to $15.76 per hour in the first year of the contract and to $16.59 per hour at the end of the contract. of the contract,” Hey wrote. “This investment not only fairly compensates our current employees, but also helps keep the district competitive when recruiting candidates in a tight labor market.”
Racial Literacy Dialogue
During public comments, resident Dru Shelly announced that a $30,000 grant had been received from the VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn to be used to run Racial Literacy Parent Talk Circles for parents of students in the Souderton area during the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years. .
The work is part of the Montgomery County Cultural Competency and Equity Student Ambassador Program, she said.
It will be led by Carmina Taylor and will reflect the work Taylor has done with the 4 Black & Brown Lives Movement in Montgomery County, Shelly said.
The student ambassador program is currently being run in the school districts of Abington, Cheltenham, Norristown, Upper Dublin, Hatboro-Horsham, Upper Moreland, Lower Moreland and North Penn, she said, and the grant will expand it to the Souderton area and the districts of Wissahickon.
“Our district has taken significant steps to become more inclusive over the past two years, including updating the curriculum and bringing guest speakers into the high school to give presentations,” Shelly said.
Students in the district praised these efforts, while saying there is still work to be done, she said.
Parents interested in being part of the program can send an email with the subject Souderton Racial Literacy Program, their name and the name of their children’s school by May 9 to [email protected] or carmina.a. [email protected]
The group would like to have parents from each of the schools in the district and is looking for eight students from high school, four from each of two middle schools and two from each of six elementary schools, Shelly said.