Friday, May 19, 2017

Greater Egg Harbor School Board Issues Response to Accusations of Releasing Paraprofessionals

On May 18, 2017, the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School Board issued the below press release in response to the Greater Egg Harbor Education Association's accusations of releasing paraprofessionals in the Regional School District.

On behalf of the Board of Education, our administration notified our Association on March 8th that we would be considering contracted services for our aides (paraprofessionals) which we estimated would result in a savings of $350,000. This savings from contracted services would largely come from employee benefits. 
As an example, the Board of Education's costs for a paraprofessionals family health benefit plan is approximately $30,417. The Board and administration was challenged with 4.7 million dollars in cuts in preparing the 2017-2018 budget. The Board of Education continues to seek ways to save the $350,000 in other ways in order to re-employee our paraprofessinoals and asked for the assistance of the Association in exploring other cost savings measures to make up this amount.
The Board of Education still hopes to close the $350,000 gap in our budget to keep our paraprofessionals under district employment. However, the timeline for notification regarding employment for the 2017-2018 school year was May 15, so as we consider proposals for contracted services, paraprofessionals were notified that due to declining enrollment, they would not be offered a position next year. Paraprofessionals were also notified that if other cost savings measures were identified and our budget gap was closed, there is a chance they would be re-employed by the district.
We have notified the Association on several occasions that the re-employment of our paraprofessionals is our number one district staffing priority. As of this writing, through budget changes since May 1, the district has allocated approximately $141,000 of the $350,000 needed. We are now in need of $209,000 to close the gap in what we accounted for in our 17/18 budget.
Where might we find savings? We have offered a new health plan option for all full time staff that would result in a savings to employees and to the district. It is an option that each employee is now considering. Any savings will be applied to district staffing priorities.
The Board has advertised for proposals for contracted services and will consider all proposals submitted.
Some more information:
    1. There is no action regarding contracted services of paraprofessionals scheduled for the upcoming May 22 Board of Education Meeting.
    2. If the Board of Education does pursue contracted services, current paraprofessionals will be recommended for employment by the management company and will have a job. 
    3. We have 21 full time paraprofessionals and 9 part-time that serve all three high schools. 
    4. As stated, we are hopeful we may be able to re-employ paraprofessionals and a decision is expected in mid-June. 
    5. The Board of Education will consider contracted services and review proposals keeping in mind all concerns from our students, parents and staff. 
    6. It is not accurate to say that the Board of Education would have no say as to the hiring or retention of staff in a contracted services agreement. The Board and administration will have input into the employment of all paraprofessionals. 
    7. We currently face a challenge in keeping our part-time paraprofessionals. We have turn over that may stabilize in a contracted services situation, as these part-time paraprofessionals will have an opportunity to work full time. 
    8. It is not fair or accurate to suggest we will have "strangers" in our schools.
  •  Our current paraprofessionals will be offered employment by a management company and will not be "strangers." 

  •  All contracted employees will be fingerprinted and have a criminal background check as is the case with all district employees. 
  •  Our current part-time paraprofessionals are hired from our communities and they are not considered "strangers." 
  •  Our current substitute roster changes each month and our substitutes are not considered "strangers." 
  •  Any employees hired by a management company will come from our surrounding communities and they will not "strangers." 
We appreciate the position of our Association, and we too value our paraprofessionals. We are aware of school districts that have pursued contracted services successfully and some that have not had a positive experience. We have been open and forthright with the Association in considering this option and, as you can see, we are still hopeful that we can re-employee our paraprofessionals.

Please be reminded that we had to cut 4.7 million from our budget and that was no easy task. We have relatively few options, if any other, to consider at this point. We do not wish to cut programs, but short of finding this dollar amount through contacted services, we would have to cut our after school activity bus transportation, more clubs, summer marching band, various performing arts productions and other student programs.


Anonymous said...

They should make cuts to bloated 6 figure salaries by Administrative personnel! But we know that won't happen!

Unknown said...

The director of special services is retiring. Do not replace her. We have more than enough directors to handle the tasks associated with that position

Anonymous said...

Substitutes are only in a classroom every once and a while, a big difference from having a different person in a classroom every day. The district will not be hiring these individuals so they cannot guarantee they will be locals. Most importantly, current paras WILL NOT be accepting jobs with any of these companies. After working five, ten, even twenty plus years in some cases, with benefits and a pension, who in their right mind would do the same job for less money, no benefits and no pension...?! Not to mention that these companies can send their employees to any location where they are contracted so even if they hired someone local there's no guarantee they would be working locally. The students will in fact be stuck with strangers.

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