Colleagues Go to Bat for Haverhill’s ESPs as Negotiations Continue Wednesday

(File photograph.)

Haverhill’s Education Support Professionals—some who said they get by on food stamps and fuel assistance— received support last week for a pay raise from their colleagues and members of the School Committee.

Lee Ann Ferguson, an ESP at Moody School for 22 years, told the School Committee salaries are far too low for the workload expected of them.

“We have paras in the Haverhill school system that need to receive support from the government, such as food stamps and heating assistance, to maintain their households. This is appalling and we ask that you, the School Committee, give us a living wage that we all really deserve.”

The ESP Living Wage Campaign also received the support of teachers who say they are invaluable. Barry Davis, a music teacher at Golden Hill School, called the ESPs essential.

“They are some of the greatest people I have ever worked with. They are the heart and soul of our school and it would not function without them.”

Others pointed out many of these paraprofessionals have to work second jobs but, as a result of COVID-19, some of those jobs are no longer available.

Committee members agreed a raise was warranted and promised to look closely at next year’s school budget to find a way to make room for a wage increase.

Education Support Professionals return to the bargaining table again tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 18.

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