School Committee Negotiator Disputes Characterization of State of Current Support Staff Talks

Haverhill School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The chairman of the committee negotiating a new contract with education support professionals is disputing the union’s characterization of progress during current talks.

School Committee Member Paul A. Magliocchetti, who chairs the negotiating subcommittee which also includes member Toni Sapienza Donais, said Sunday that not only does the full School Committee value the support staff, it has offered a three-year compensation package. The proposal “will restructure positions, provides for a pay schedule that reflects the skills and responsibilities of the employee, meets the hourly living wage set by the HEA president and results in a 25% increase in the salary account for this group.”

“Every member of the School Committee understands how dedicated these valuable employees are and has committed to making significant progress in upgrading the compensation for these employees,” Magliocchetti said in a statement.

Magliocchetti called “absurd” a statement by Haverhill Education Association President Anthony J. Parolisi that they are being paid “poverty wages,” which federal guidelines place in the range of $6 per hour. Magliocchetti added, the School Committee voted unanimously to support the proposal presented by the subcommittee.

According to the Haverhill Public Schools business office, Magliocchetti said, ESP’s, who work between six and seven hours per day, 40 weeks per year, for an average of 1,176 hours per year, are paid between $19,016 and $30,056. If the union accepts the current proposal, he added, the salary range will increase to between $21,458 and $35,172—or $16.45 to $21.75 per hour. In addition, to benefit struggling students, 12-month positions are being offered to some highly qualified ESPs which will further increase the salary range to $26,763 to $43,869.

Anthony J. Parolisi, a social studies teacher at Consentino School, is president of the Haverhill Education Association.

Reached Sunday night, Parolisi said the highest pay ranges proposed by the School Committee would benefit relatively few staff. For example, he said, “In the last year of their proposal, the lowest paid—the most numerous of the unit—ESP makes only between $21,458 and $27,820 a year, including those with over 20 years of experience.”

Referring to the proposed 12-month positions for some staff, Parolisi said, “We don’t think requiring them to work an extra two months is the solution to the fact that they are not paid a living wage for the work they already do.” He added, “It’s like adding an extra game to the NFL season, but you wouldn’t call that a raise,” he added.

He said the hourly rates mentioned are also misleading since it represents only a change in the calculation and not what staff take home.

Magliocchetti said, the School Committee is charged with balancing all the needs of the School Department, especially providing necessary services for students. “If we were to accept all the union demands, the Committee would have no choice but to cut services to our students, at a time when they need our help the most,” he said.

“Unfortunately, due to the HEA president’s false and misleading statements, the parties remain apart on the union’s proposal seeking additional wage increases which would result in a 40% increase ($2.5 million dollars) in the salary account for this group,” Magliocchetti said.

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