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Show support for Mascenic staff

To the editor:

Articles 3 and 5 of the Mascenic Regional School District warrant represent achievement of goals the School Board had upon entering negotiations: more competitive pay for teachers and compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Both are important components of the district’s strategic plan, which makes student learning the focus of all district resources.

Approaching teacher negotiations, the board believed that significant change to the current salary structure was critical to advancement of the district’s goals. Currently, Mascenic’s average salary is 20 percent below the state average, and in the past two years, our district lost 10 teachers, many from the critical shortage areas of math and science, who cited low pay as a reason for leaving. Compounding the below-average pay is a salary schedule with illogical jumps and flatlines.

In this first step toward correcting these problems, the proposed contract reflects an increase for all teachers, with larger percentages targeted at undervalued steps. This is a major concession by the Mascenic Education Association. The agreement also includes additional professional development time, an important element to achieving high quality curriculum and instruction. This contract is good for teachers, but more importantly, it is good for Mascenic education.

Regarding paraprofessionals, it may surprise some to learn that the district’s full-time paras do not have access to a district sponsored health plan. Rather than pay exorbitant Affordable Care Act fines, or cut hours, which would hurt students that require special education services, the board did what it believed was right for students and employees; it negotiated healthcare and the necessary salary increases to ensure the affordability of that coverage. Decent healthcare, and the peace of mind that comes with it, should not be out of reach for our employees.

Please show your support of our valued staff by voting yes on Articles 3 and 5.

Tara Sousa

Vice chair, Mascenic Regional School Board

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