WESTFORD — As teaching assistants have continued to push for higher wages, the School Committee spoke on the current contract negotiations between the committee and the Westford Educators Association.
Parents, educators speak in support of higher wages
Over a dozen individuals sat in on the May 9 meeting in support of teaching assistants, including parents and other educators. Jenn Smagula, a parent of two children with individualized education plans, spoke in support of educators.
“I’ve attended or listened to many School Committee meetings over the years but this is the first time I felt compelled to speak during the public comment period,” said Smagula. “Over the years, my children have had the great fortune to work with many Westford teaching assistants.”
She continued, “I urge you to take in everything you’re hearing tonight and find a way to make sure they’re compensated in a way that is more reflected in the value that they bring to our schools.”
Kathleen McGee, a 14 year teaching assistant at Robinson School, noted that teaching assistants provide a “pivotal role” in allowing all students to access curriculum.
“All children have the right to access education, and some are only able to do so with the help of a teaching assistant,” McGee said.
School Committee responds to ongoing negotiations
School Committee Chair Chris Sanders spoke on behalf of the committee, thanking teaching assistants for their dedication to the district.
“Our teaching assistants are an absolute vital part of this district,” Sanders said.
He continued, “while TA’s provide invaluable assistance to our teaching staff, their job is so much more than that.”
Sanders then provided an update on the current round of negotiations on the Unit E contract, which is set to expire on June 30.
“That’s why we look forward to adjusting the title of these invaluable staff members to Education Support Professionals. It better reflects the scope of the value and contributions that our Unit E members bring to the job,” he said.
He continued, “we are committed to raising the pay of our ESP’s such that it’s in line with that of surrounding districts and comparable communities.”
The minimum base salary of a teaching assistant in Westford is $16,160 during the 2021-2022 school year. The salary schedule tops out with a maximum base salary of $25,063 per year. Negotiations are currently ongoing between the School Committee and Westford Educators Association.
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