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BOE Surprises Paraprofessionals By Ending Four-Year Contract Dispute

The board voted to accept the fact finder's report and to give the paras their first contract.

The Parsippany school district's paraprofessionals had no idea that their four-year quest for a contract would end Tuesday night.

But it did.

At its special Tuesday night session, the Board of Education, by a 7-2 vote, accepted a fact finder's report establishing terms for an employment contract for teachers' aides and assistants.

After a closed door meeting during which most energy was spent on the Superintendent Seitz contract, many residents in the audience were surprised when board member Anthony Mancuso reintroduced a motion he had made June 28 to accept a fact finder's report regarding the paraprofessionals' contract.

The move, Mancuso said, was motivated by his desire to see the Parsippany-Troy Hills Educational Support Association, the union that represents school paraprofessionals, receive a contract after four years without one.

Under the terms of the report, the paraprofessionals would get two three-year contracts that would give teacher's aides and assistants 3 percent raises covering the school years 2007-08 and 2008-09, 2 percent raises for 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13, and no raise at all in 2010-11. In addition, paraprofessionals would continue to be excluded from receiving health care benefits.

The paraprofessionals, who have never had a contract during the four years of their union's existence, decided to accept the fact finder's report even though it gives them far less than they had hoped.

Last night, the board finally accepted the report too. The two dissenting votes came from member Michael Strumolo and Co-Vice President Susy Golderer.

"Due to the economy, I can't in good conscience vote for retroactive pay," Strumolo explained, adding that he supports and respects the school workers.

Golderer also praised the paraprofessionals, but said that she could not support anything that could raise taxes.

"Any increase means an increase for taxpayers, and I cannot vote in favor of that," she said.

Mancuso noted with disappointment that of the residents who came to the Board of Education to wait for two hours while private discussions took place, none were paraprofessionals.

Vickie Walsh of the New Jersey Educational Association said that's because no one knew that the paraprofessional contract would be discussed during the special session.

"We were not notified," she said. "I was under the understanding that the subject was limited to Dr. Seitz's contract. There was no lack of interest on the paraprofessionals' part. If we had known, we would have been there to thank him personally.

"I find it quite amazing that they accepted the fact finder's report," Walsh said. "I'm happy. It's been a long time coming."

The union leader noted that she has spoken with some paraprofessionals and that they are "excited and happy" as well.

Walsh said she now will focus on upcoming negotiations involving contract renegotiations for school secretaries and teachers.

parhome July 13, 2011 at 03:05 PM
How much is the starting salary now?
Natalie Davis (Editor) July 13, 2011 at 03:21 PM
About $18K/year.
Rosetta July 13, 2011 at 08:42 PM
I doubt that the taxes will go up because of our raise. We make the least amount of pay and like everyone else over the past 4 years, we should also get some kind of raise. we are the only full time workers that do not get medical benefits.
Barbara Hackling July 13, 2011 at 09:46 PM
It's been a long time coming. After so many years of negotiating, we finally get to move on. Thanks Mr. Mancuso for reintroducing the motion. It's nice to know that most BOE members recognized that it was the right way to go. To all my fellow paraprofessionals: Yay, way to go!
Ellen July 13, 2011 at 10:11 PM
what a naive statement. Taxes either go up or something else gets cut. I am not implying we will lose huge items over the raise but the money has to come from somewhere
steve revette July 13, 2011 at 11:46 PM
Ellen is right the money will have to come from somewhere.
Rosetta July 14, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Are you going to talk about taxes being raised when the secretaries, teachers, custodians, etc get their raises?? I guess we are the only group who some people feel should work but not receive any raises because the taxes will go up.
Ellen July 14, 2011 at 01:10 AM
nobody is saying the Paras shouldn't get a raise just that it is ignorant to think you can get a raise and the money comes from the sky. As I said, either the taxes go up or something gets cut.
steve revette July 14, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Rosetta you said that taxes were not going to be raised because of your raises.I was talking about taxes being raised way before you guys got a contract. I believe we have to many secretaries. Also you cannot compare para's to teachers because teachers can be laid off and you can raise class size. If a child needs a para professional and it says that in his IEP the district has to give him one. The district can not say they will not give him one.
CAZ July 14, 2011 at 03:25 AM
Let's keep in mind here....This retroactive raise was most likely budgeted in each year; before the NJEA was trying to get the Paras a contract. The only year that there was a raise freeze in district was 2010-2011. Considering the Paras are full time employees & make the least salary among district employees a fair cost of living raise is only right. And as Steve mentioned the Paras are required by law.
CAZ July 14, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Thank you Mr. Mancuso!!! It's was the right thing to do. Very disappointed in Susy & Michael. Very, very disappointed...thank you to all the BOE members that showed the Paraprofessionals respect.
parhome July 14, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Amen
Ellen July 14, 2011 at 04:21 AM
"CAZ 11:25pm on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 Let's keep in mind here....This retroactive raise was most likely budgeted in each year; before the NJEA was trying to get the Paras a contract. The only year that there was a raise freeze in district was 2010-2011. Considering the Paras are full time employees & make the least salary among district employees a fair cost of living raise is only right. And as Steve mentioned the Paras are required by law." Sorry, you are wrong. While it used to be in the budget, it was taken out http://www.pthsd.k12.nj.us/pdf/2011-2012_Budget_Worksession_1.pdf (see page 10) Understandably most people don't want to put in the time to attend all the meeting and get the facts but are quick to complain or state how it is, while the reality is the great majority of the public is clueless (This statement is not specific to the quote above)
Stella July 14, 2011 at 10:27 AM
You all seem so worried about the paraprofessionals raise, the money is there, didnt they just find 5 million dollars? Yes they did ,I go to board meetings.
Faith July 14, 2011 at 10:57 AM
Thank you Stella You said it all!
gary martin July 14, 2011 at 01:15 PM
The achievements of an organization are the result of the combined effort of each individual.
gary martin July 14, 2011 at 01:39 PM
As a citizen, I thank the Paraprofessionals for all their hard work and I wish your families the best. Please remember, The achievements of an organization are the result of the combined effort of each individual. Again, Thank you for your service.
CAZ July 14, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Thanks for the insight. I was referring to prior years. The Paras were locked in negotiations for 4 1/2 years. That's probably why the raises weren't budgeted in. But one would think the money allocated for the cost of living raises that the Paras did not receive while they were locked-up (was maybe gaining interested??) Or maybe not. But I think Stella made a very grand point!
Rosetta July 16, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Stella. You are absolutely right about the 5 million dollars found. I was at that same meeting. So I would say the district has some money.

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