We need to boost teacher salaries

To the editor:

As part of the negotiating team, I wanted to share some thoughts on our schools in the Mascenic District. We have gone through a lot of changes in the last few years. And many things have been done to provide opportunities for the children.

One specific item that has been neglected is the pay for teachers in the entry level positions, which is addressed in Article 3. Virtually all other districts pay new teachers $5,000 or more that we do. We lose teachers early in their career. Once they gain a little experience, they tend to move on to a surrounding district that will pay them more than we do. The pay scale that we are proposing would provide a system that rewards teachers for their growth and experience as they pursue their teaching career and encourage them to continue being part of our school system.

Regarding the para-professionals: This group of people provides valuable support for students with special needs and to facilitate a teacher’s work in the classroom on a limited basis. Their work takes concentration and dedication. Most of the money for Article 5 is to assure compliance with the rolling out of Obamacare. If we do nothing as a district, we could be subject to enormous fines by the federal government. We believe that the prudent course of action is to pass this article.

The School Board is proposing a zero percent budget increase from last year to help offset the cost of the two articles addressing the pay of teachers and paraprofessionals. These two articles represent a 3.1 percent increase overall, which is comparable to surrounding districts. The details will be presented at the SB2 meeting on February 1, beginning at 9 a.m. We ask for your attendance to be part of the process as we work together to verify, and get feedback from our Mascenic community on these issues.

Earl R. Somero

Mascenic School Board

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