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School Committee declares impasse on paraprofessional pay

GHS+ESPs+wear+black+to+mourn+the+loss+of+morale+after+school+committee+walked+away+from+negotiating+table+declaring+an+impasse.+
Monica Madruga
GHS ESPs wear black to mourn the loss of morale after school committee walked away from negotiating table declaring an impasse.

On Thursday, September 14, the Gloucester School Committee walked away from the bargaining table, declaring an impasse on the GAEP negotiations for a wage increase. 

The GAEP, along with members of the GTA and various other teaching unions across the North Shore, have been showing their support for Gloucester’s paraprofessionals as they advocated for fair wages, affordable access to education, and the respect that they deserve from students and peers. 

At Thursday’s meeting, the School Committee had presented an offer to the GAEP bargaining team that included reimbursement for tuition and MTEL fees for ESPs who wish to further their education, and pursue a teaching license. 

The School Committee offered a wage proposal, which included $2,500 added to every step for the first year. $2,000 would also be added to every step for the second year and then $1,000 added to every step for the third year. 

GAEP, however, had been asking for $3,000 for the first year and $4,000 over the next two years, which would allow the School Committee to create the budget needed to accommodate their requests. 

The offer presented was the School Committee’s final offer to the GAEP, as the entire School Committee and City Council supported this deal. 

GAEP presented a counter offer to the School Committee, however the School Committee felt as if the numbers presented were still too far apart, prompting them to declare an impasse for the situation and resort to mediation, causing the meeting to end with almost 45 minutes remaining in their scheduled time. 

After the meeting, the GAEP asked the district to participate in solidarity actions to show their support for the union, including asking teachers and other staff members to wear black to mourn the loss of morale. 

GAEP also asked for emails to be sent to Mayor Verga (who was present at the meeting), the School Committee, and the City Council to ask them to get back to the table and continue negotiations without a mediator and pass the ESP Living Wage Resolution.

“The Association rejects the School Committee’s claim that we have reached an impasse and remains ready to negotiate in good faith without a third party between our members and employer,” said GAEP President Maryann Aiello in a statement posted to Facebook. 

“We hope the School Committee will reconsider and join as the bargaining table to continue these discussions,” Aiello said. 

“I’m disappointed that the school committee members didn’t come up more,” said GHS School Counselor and GAEP bargaining team member Monica Madruga. 

“People who work 184 days and 35 hours a week shouldn’t need MassHealth, food stamps, fuel assistance, housing or any of those things. They should be paid enough to be able to survive without someone else contributing to their income or relying on government assistance or getting a second job.”

— Monica Madruga

 

GAEP and the School Committee had several Tentative Agreements and though their financial packages differed, I had high hopes for a positive outcome,” said GTA President Rachel Rex. 

It is a shame the School Committee wants to put a third party between them and GAEP rather than hash it out themselves,”  Rex said. 

For now, the GAEP will continue to rally support from the community and spread the word that ESP’s deserve a fair, and living wage. Their next meetings with the School Committee will be held on October 19 and November 3.  

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About the Contributor
SOFIA ORLANDO, Editor in Chief
Sofia Orlando is a senior at GHS and is Editor in Chief for The Gillnetter. She is a member of the National Honors Society (NHS) and has won awards for her accomplishments regarding world history and journalism. In her free time, Sofia can be found baking, hanging out with friends and family, walking around town, or watching any of her favorite movies. She also has a fraternal twin sister! You can contact her with any questions or story ideas at: [email protected]

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