BEU issues press release on Paraprofessional and Administrator contracts
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Some Brookline Educators Still Working Without Contracts
While teachers have reached a tentative agreement with the Brookline School Committee for a new contract, the Brookline Educators Union is still trying to hammer out new contracts with the Brookline School Committee for paraprofessionals and administrators in the union.
At a BEU membership meeting on Oct. 5, members unanimously voted to withdraw voluntary participation in administrative committees until agreements can be reached with the paraprofessionals and unionized administrators. Educators will continue to engage in voluntary activities that directly benefit students.
The paraprofessionals are seeking a wage increase and the administrators want to address workload issues.
“Our paraprofessionals are grossly underpaid, and they provide invaluable service to the school system,” said BEU President Jessica Wender-Shubow. “The school committee needs to recognize the professionalism and level of skill involved in the work the paras do. Brookline can do that by providing a livable wage for those doing this important and difficult work.”
Wendy MacMillan, a paraprofessional for 16 years in Brookline’s early childhood education program, said that with the same level of experience she’d be making $16,000 more annually if she worked in neighboring Newton. She noted that because of the poor compensation for Brookline’s paraprofessionals, the schools are having difficulty attracting and retaining qualified personnel for the positions.
A shortage of paraprofessionals affects all students, not just those receiving direct services from a para.
Wender-Shubow said that the school committee ignores the fact that paraprofessionals occasionally cover classes for teachers, freeing them up for meetings and other district work; and that paraprofessionals often work with students who have significant academic and emotional needs.
BEU-represented administrators, such as vice principals, are frustrated by shifting and increasing job responsibilities that make it difficult to support the teachers and classroom staff in their buildings.
“The BEU recognizes the importance of all members of our union. We are all educators, and we are all integral to the education we provide students in Brookline,” Wender-Shubow said. “We do not consider this labor dispute resolved until the paraprofessionals and administrators have settled their contracts.”
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BEU negotiators respond to the latest School Committee statement
Sadly, the first specific statement from the Brookline School Committee about negotiations with the BEU is provably false. Their offer does not contain the percentage increases they report. We wish that it did; we would be closer to settling the contract. It is in fact $785.00, less than 1 percent average, in year one; $1600.00, about a 2 percent average increase in year two (given the average pay of the bargaining unit, $79,010), and in year 3, a 2 percent increase. They also proposed the possibility of an additional year of the contract, with a 2 percent increase in September and 1 percent that would start on the 92nd school day. Included is an additional step in the salary scale, at 1% above the current top step, and a mandatory additional 2.5 hours a week to the elementary teacher’s in-school time (30 minutes extra a day). The BEU rejected the notion of such an additional year, as the additional time would increase the elementary teacher’s mandatory day by roughly 7.5%, without a compensatory increase in pay.
There are many issues regarding student safety, class size, workload, paperwork, and preparation time that remain unresolved. The BEU is happy to review both our proposals and the School Committee’s proposals, word for word, with anyone who is interested. We and the School Committee have ground rules that we agreed on before negotiations began that prevent members of the public from attending our bargaining sessions. However, we are prepared to open up these negotiations to public scrutiny if the School Committee would also so agree.