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Public schools' paraprofessionals ratify first contract

The newly unionized education paraprofessionals have ratified their first contract negotiated between the Arlington Education Association and Arlington School Committee. The committee approved the contract June 13.

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“This is an important step toward establishing the professional respect and better working conditions that teaching assistants and other education support staff deserve,”union organizer and bargaining chair Susan Soares, a teaching assistant at Stratton Elementary School, said in a June 20 news release.

Schools' Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said that the paraprofessionals are crucial to maintaining the quality of the education available in the district.

“This agreement will help Arlington attract and retain the best possible candidates for the positions in our schools,” she said.

The three-year contract significantly expands the pay scale for  paraprofessionals, though they still rank toward the bottom on the "Town Managers 12" comparison communities. The contract improves job security and access to professional development. The contract also establishes benefits commensurate with other employees.

During the 2017-18 school year, teaching assistants, behavioral support personnel, suspension paraprofessionals, instructional support paraprofessionals, library paraprofessionals, building substitutes and tutors organized to become members of the Arlington Education Association. The AEA already represents teachers and administrative assistants.  

Arlington was one of the few school districts in the region where paraprofessionals were not unionized.

The AEA voted to accept the paraprofessionals as members in May 2018, and the following month the Arlington School Committee recognized the AEA as the union representing the educators.

Negotiations lasted six months. The paraprofessionals organized actions to illustrate the issues important to them and were joined in solidarity by the other members of the AEA.

“The role of the paraprofessional has changed dramatically over recent years, and this contract recognizes the skill and responsibility that our schools demand from these educators,” said AEA President Jason Levy.

June 22, 2018: Teachers' union, School Committee announce 3-year contract

This news announcement was published Thursday, June 20, 2019.

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