WESTFORD — Teaching assistants are hoping to secure a raise for the upcoming school year. With a maximum base salary of $25,063 per year, assistants have pressured the School Committee to reevaluate their wages during contract negotiations.
Assistants speak to School Committee in public comment
Amy Collins, who has served as a teaching assistant at Day Elementary School for nearly eight years, spoke to the School Committee in an April 25 meeting.
She noted that responsibilities can differ among schools, assistants are typically responsible for supervising student arrival and dismissal, lunches and recess, as well as collaborating with educators. They also provide “academic, social and emotional support” for students in inclusion classrooms, according to Collins.
“As a group, teaching assistants bring a variety of skills, education and experience to our roles,” she said. “We work as teaching assistants because we care deeply about the children we support,” Collins said.
She continued, “We respectfully ask you to recognize the valuable work that we perform on a daily basis and we ask for fair pay for our TA’s,” she said.
Unit E contract outlines low base salary, bonuses
Teaching assistants, whose pay falls under Westford’s Unit E contract, outlines the salary schedule for full-time equivalent teaching assistants. As of the 2021-2022 school year, the minimum base salary of a teaching assistant is $16,160 per year. The salary schedule tops out with a maximum base salary of $25,063 per year.
“The Superintendent may place a new employee on any step of the salary schedule dependent on experience and/or current job market availability,” the contract reads.
Assistants with multiple years of continuous service with the town are entitled to additional salary, separate from the step schedule. Those with between eight years and 10 years of continuous service will earn an additional $500 per year. Those with 30 or more years of continuous service can expect an additional $2,000 per year.
Additional bonuses are paid for specific qualifications, such as a degree. Assistants with an associate degree will earn a lump-sum $500 bonus at the end of the school year. A teaching license or master’s degree will earn an assistant a $900 bonus.
Assistants aim to spread awareness, negotiate contract
“They’re really trying to get the word out, talking to the School Committee and raising awareness,” said Johnathan Ng, a communications specialist with the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
School Committee members are currently in negotiations with teaching assistants. The current Unit E contract is set to expire on June 30.
“Unfortunately, since we are currently in the midst of negotiations with our teaching assistants, I am not at liberty to discuss anything about it,” wrote Westford Superintendent of Schools Christopher Chew in an email to WestfordCAT.
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