SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury Paraprofessionals Association (SPA) will continue negotiations with the Shrewsbury School Committee following a mediator’s ruling.
The School Committee filed for mediation earlier this year, School Committee Chair Jon Wensky wrote in an email to the Community Advocate Tuesday.
SPA addressed the ruling in a statement to the Community Advocate, saying the mediator ruled in their favor.
“We’re pleased that the mediator saw what we saw: the School Committee is trying to get around bargaining by using the mediation process,” said SPA President Noreen Christie and organizer Audra Makuch in a joint statement to the Community Advocate.
They continued, “We are looking forward to getting back to the table, but we’re still committed to winning a fair contract, not the two percent [pay increase that] the School Committee keeps talking about.”
Wensky wrote in an email to the Community Advocate that the negotiations never paused.
“The mediator felt it was in the parties’ best interest to continue negotiations versus entering the mediation process as a next step,” Wensky said.
“We look forward to continuing our good faith effort to reach an agreement as soon as possible,” he continued.
SPA’s contract with the district expired in August. Since then, the paraprofessionals have been working under the terms of their old contract.
The Paraprofessionals Association has publicly shared their concerns about School Committee offers, speaking in School Committee meetings, placing signs around town, and holding a rally in front of Town Hall, among other things. Christie said during that rally that they were fighting for a living wage.
“I’ve worked for the district for 16 years, and in 16 years, they’ve given me $5 and some change. … I deserve more. You deserve more,” Christie said at the time.
In past statements, the School Committee has said that their most recent proposal called for cost of living increases over two percent in years one and three in addition to step increases in those years. The committee added that their proposal included between four and 10 percent wage increases for prioritized paraprofessionals in year two when cost of living and step increases were taken into consideration.
Christie and Makuch said the SPA remains “frustrated.”
The SPA previously told the Community Advocate that a two percent increase at the contract’s top hourly pay rate of $18.84 amounted to just $0.38 in extra hourly pay.
“I would be making about $8 more PER HOUR in Northborough than here, and we can’t get the School Committee to agree to a $0.75 raise and some other basic things,” Christie and Makuch’s statement said.
“We remain hopeful that the School Committee will see the light!” they continued. “We’re so grateful to the hundreds of residents who have talked to us, taken our information, reached out to the School Committee and put up yard signs.”
Shrewsbury paraprofessionals union expresses frustration with contract negotiations