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CSEA Paraeducators Testify
CSEA paraeducators testified at a public hearing on an interim study of paraeducator staffing levels in late September. The program review (PRI) committee approved the study of school paraeducator staffing in May of 2014 following intensive lobbying efforts by CSEA and other unions representing paras to form a task force on these same issues. Our union and others have raised the issue that districts are assigning school paraeducators in ways that render paras unable to effectively perform their core duties, including those that are required by special education students’ individualized education plans.
Cille Grabert, para educator in the New FairfieldSchool District testified. “When I was assigned to three students in a first grade class, my job was to keep them on task, have them complete an assignment, and monitor their behavior. The teacher told me that all of the students had to produce something to complete their assignments. It was very challenging because each had different learning issues and learning styles. One student would break every pencil that I gave him and act out, another student was extremely shy and had difficulties with reading, and the last student had problems with writing and spelling. Many elementary paraeducators experience similar situations everyday assisting in the classroom, and without the necessary training to address the needs of our students we can’t serve them nearly as well as we could. We need the proper tools to do the job; we need access to professional development.”
The report’s findings so far:
There is no one definition of school paraprofessional, or para. Various definitions and titles exist, depending on federal and state law and regulation, and local district policies, job descriptions, and contracts.
Connecticut State Department of Education collects data on the numbers of FTE non-certified instructional staff (NCIS) in all districts. The categories of NCIS include those assigned to: special education; Pre-K and kindergarten; library/media; ESL/Bilingual; and regular education.
The data indicate that there are a total of 14,450 NCIS working in the districts in 2013, an increase of about 13 percent from 2003, but a decrease of 2 percent from the 14,741 employed in 2010.
Most of the increase in NCIS has been in special education, where the number of FTEs has risen about 30 percent, from 7,319 in 2003 to 9,562 in 2013. At the same, the number of paras assigned to other areas and regular education has decreased by about 20 percent.
Since 2004, there has also been an increase in the number of special education teachers (5 percent), while the numbers of special education students has declined by about 3,350 (5 percent). Thus, the ratio of special education students to both special education teachers and special education paraprofessionals has decreased over a similar period – in the case of teachers from 8:1 in 2004 to 6:1 in 2013, in the case of paras, from 5:1 to 4:1.
Results from a recent survey of paras conducted by UConn’s UniversityCenter for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities indicate that 54percent of paras responding had been working for 10+ years; 41 percent had a BA or higher, while 16 percent had only a high school or equivalency diploma.
In the vast majority of school districts, paras are unionized, with various unions representing paras.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecticut teaching assistants (including paras) are paid an annual average salary of $29,230, about $5,000 more than the national average. The average para salary is about 42 percent of the $68,580 salary of an elementary general education teacher and 41 percent of the $71,810 paid to a special education teacher.
The study will now conduct a survey of school districts’ human resources and special education departments will seek data about: actual numbers of full- and part-time NCIS, their job titles, the students and/or classrooms they support; and numbers and types of grievances raised, injuries reported, and workers’ compensation cases filed. Further data analysis will focus on contract provisions, job descriptions, and school and district staffing patterns. The final report is expected to be released after the legislature returns in January, at which time we can expect there to be additional public hearings. CSEA members will be ready testify at public hearings following the release of the final report. Stay tuned…
Paid for by CSEA SEIU Local 2001. This message was made independent of any candidate or political party. More information about CSEA SEIU Local 2001 may be found on the state elections commission internet website.
ALL CHAPTER PARAEDUCATORS WELCOME TO ATTEND
Your Attendance is Requested!!
PARAEDUCATOR COUNCIL, CSEA SEIU LOCAL 2001
DATE: October 18, 2014
TIME: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
(Registration @ 9:30 AM)
WHERE: Union Hall, 760 Capitol Ave, Hartford
OPEN POSITION – alternate delegate to CSEA Exec. Board
(For further information: contact J.Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lunch and mileage reimbursement
CSEA SEIU LOCAL 2001
DATE: May 17, 2014
TIME: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (Registration @ 9:30 AM)
WHERE: Union Hall, 760 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106
** NOTE: Lunch and mileage reimbursement **
All Chapters should send at least 1 delegate.
CHAPTER MEMBERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND!
84 East to Exit 44 (Prospect)
84 West to Exit 47 (Sisson Avenue)
For further information contact: J. Smith @ email@example.com
Click Here for copy of original Meeting Notice.
10am-1pm at the CSEA Union Hall, 760 Capitol Ave, Hartford CT
Being a Paraeducator is no PICNIC, but we can treat you to a Picnic-style lunch!
Come Join Us!
CSEA SEIU LOCAL 2001
Working Together Making Us Strong and United!
ALL CHAPTERS SHOULD SEND AT LEAST ONE DELEGATE
DATE: Saturday, May 18, 2013
TIME: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM (Registration @ 9:30 AM)
WHERE: CSEA SEIU Local 2001 Union Hall, 760 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT
Union Hall is accessed via easy & convenient I-84 exit
SPEAKER: Dave Glidden, Director of Collective Bargaining, CSEA SEIU Local 2001
AGENDA: By-Laws Revisions, NRCP Conference attendees’ reports,
Open position: Alternate delegate to CSEA Exec. Board
Lunch will be served and members will be reimbursed for mileage to Hartford
ALL MEMBERS ENCOURAGED & WELCOME TO ATTEND!
April 3rd is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day, and this year we received an official proclamation from Governor Malloy thanking us for our hard work. The first Wednesday of each April has been set aside to show appreciation for paraprofessionals providing service in multiple educational settings to assist our students so they can be successful. CSEA wishes to join in thanking our Paraprofessionals: Your contributions are so important that one day of appreciation a year is certainly not enough.
One of CSEA’s tops priorities is instituting a series of legislative reforms to improve the careers of paraprofessionals. Among the reform ideas that have been discussed are developing a career ladder and mentoring program for paras, and conducting a comparable pay pilot study to look at pay rates for paras in Connecticut and nearby states. At the start of this session of the General Assembly, Tim Riddle, our Para Council president, and Danny Medress, CSEA’s political director, met with the co-chairs of the Education Committee. Any piece of legislation having to do with education must pass through this committee, so, we wanted to make sure the co-chairs understood and supported our issues. During the meeting, the co-chairs – Senator Andrea Stillman and Representative Andrew Fleischmann – expressed deep support for paras and agreed to work with us to put together and pass a package of legislation to reform and improve the careers of paras. The current session of the General Assembly is focused on passing Connecticut’s budget – a process that tends to suck up all the oxygen – so we will be working with other para unions and legislators to put together a reform package that can run during next year’s General Assembly session.
Which is not to say that we are sitting on the sidelines waiting for next year. In the current session of the General Assembly, there is a bill that would improve the composition of the School Paraprofessional Advisory Council. Currently, the Advisory Council is not composed of a majority of paraprofessionals – CSEA’s own, Bill Walkauskas, is now a member of the Advisory Council. House Bill 6502 fixes that problem by providing a majority of seats to paras. This piece of legislation passed unanimously out of the Education Committee last week.
FMLA For Para’s Update
After fighting for years to win Family and Medical Leave Act rights for paraprofessionals, it is frustrating that it has taken so long to finalize the needed regulations. However, Connecticut has a thorough regulatory review process, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) completed the regulations and, pursuant to Connecticut’s regulatory approval process, sent them to the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) for review. OPM reviewed the regulations and made a series of changes and suggestions. DOL is currently integrating those changes into the regulations and will soon be sending the updated regulations to the Governor’s office for sign off. After the Governor’s office signs off on the regulations, they will be sent back to the DOL to be published in the Connecticut Law Journal. Once published in the Connecticut Law Journal, the public will have 30 days to comment on the regulations. After the public comment period has closed and DOL has responded to each and every comment, DOL will send them to the Attorney General’s office. After the Attorney General’s office signs off on the regulations, they will be sent to the General Assembly’s Regulations Review Committee. The Regulations Review Committee must approve or reject the regulations within 60 days. With this timeline in mind, it looks like the FMLA for paraprofessionals regulations will be in place by July.