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School Committee approves 3-year contract for paraprofessionals

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Education, Featured: Education

Following five months of negotiations, the School Committee and the district’s paraprofessionals reached a three-year contract agreement to run from 2024 to 2027, it was announced at Thursday’s School Committee meeting.

Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh spoke about the four levels of paraprofessionals: Level A (who work in general education), Level B (special education), C-ABA tech and D-ABA tech and registered behavior tech (RBT) certified.

She explained that a review to see what the marketplace was paying for these positions revealed that “Level A and B paraprofessionals were underpaid while the other categories were more fairly compensated.

During the first year, there will be no uniform raises. Instead, “disparate” raises will be given, the superintendent said, ranging from 1% to 25%.

Additional steps were added to offer “opportunities to grow” for the employees.

The second and third years of the contract will have 3% raises.

Milestones will be recognized, the superintendent said, with paraprofessionals working 15 consecutive years to get a $1,000 bonus and 20 years to receive $2,000.

She said some Level C paraprofessionals must “live on the fourth step, doughnut hole” so a one-time payment of $500 was agreed upon only in fiscal year 2025.

Other aspects of the pact include extra compensation if the paraprofessional must take on the role of the teacher if the latter needs to leave the room to conduct testing or for another purpose.

At the elementary school level, after one hour, the paraprofessionals will get an additional $10 per hour on top of their regular salary.

At the middle and high schools, whatever time equals a class period, they will get that additional $10 added to their salary.

Another part of the agreement dictates that an associate’s degree or 60 credits toward a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university counts as the same.

Also, paraprofessionals will be able to carry over a personal day to the next year for a total of three if that occurs. (They are allowed two personal days per year.)

Cavanaugh said that over five months, both parties put a lot of thought and time into reaching an agreement.

“We came out with a contract that both sides can feel really proud of,” she said, adding the working relationship was “enhanced” by the work they did, and the process was “very respectful and thoughtful.”

School Committee chair Nancy Cavanaugh expressed gratitude for the paraprofessionals working in the district. “We’re very fortunate to have them.”

Carol Cavanaugh agreed. “ They are awesome and the glue that holds us together.”

Soil testing at Hopkins given go-ahead

Following an explanation from Chris Eberly, project manager at Vertex, the School Committee authorized up to $50,000 for Vertex to negotiate an agreement with Perkins Eastman to have a contractor test soils prior to their exportation off-site to another location.

Eberly said when working on a construction project, the goal is to have a balance of cuts and fills. Cuts are when soil is removed from the ground and fills are when elevation is raised.

He said there are circumstances where workers do not put back in what is taken out.

Eberly said the project attempts to maximize outdoor space for children and that area is limited by wetlands. The result is confinement to a small site.

The situation requires the exporting of soil to another location where the contractor will try to get rid of it as structural fill or other reusable soils, Eberly said. Another scenario is that it can be used as landfill cover.

He explained that there is a desire to ensure the exporter not spreading contaminants within the soil to other locations. Typically, the soil is tested to determine if it is below RCS1, acceptable state-mandated levels set by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Eberly said sampling the soil in advance with a boring rig involves drilling a hole, capturing a sample below the earth, bringing it up and testing it in a lab to see what is contained in it.

The amount for the consultant would be $44,154 with a 10% contractually allowed markup by Perkins Eastman, bringing the total to $48,569.

He said delaying testing would mean workers would have to test more and smaller quantities at the same time.

“The site contractor will have to move piles around multiple times and keep piles on-site longer,” Eberly said, “adding inefficiency to the job as well as additional costs.”

He said the soil pre-characterization consultant option is “a cost-saving venture.”

There is remaining contingency money that can be used from within the original design authorization approved by Town Meeting in 2023, Eberly added.

Chair officially announces Munroe’s resignation

In other business, Nancy Cavanaugh officially announced Adam Munroe’s resignation from the committee. She received his letter June 9 and forwarded it to committee members and the town clerk.

The Select Board was to receive the letter Friday, and it will be posted on the town’s website. More information will be available for residents who would like to be considered for the role.

Under the charter, Cavanaugh said, 10 days after the vacancy is posted and seven days after it closes, the Select Board and School Committee will meet to jointly appoint a new member.


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