The Salem School Board and Superintendent notified the 180 paraprofessionals in Salem earlier this month that their hours would be cut next year in order to avoid having to provide health insurance coverage to those same employees. They resisted and reminded the District that the working hours and benefits of employees covered in a collective bargaining agreement can only be changed through negotiations. NEA-NH and the Salem Paraprofessionals filed a grievance with the District and and Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint with the State.
The Salem’ School District attorney contacted NEA-NH on Thursday to ask that we withdraw the grievance and the ULP complaint we filed, and in exchange they will return to status quo regarding Salem ESP employee hours. No hours would be cut unless an employee’s student left the school district or a student’s IEP required a reduction in hours. NEA-NH and the Salem Paraprofessionals agreed to withdraw both the grievance and ULP without prejudice and to negotiate the matter at our upcoming negotiations in the fall.
NEA-NH reminds our members, superintendents and school boards that any changes to the hours worked and benefits received by ESPs must be negotiated.
Given the vital role ESP’s play in the lives of our most vulnerable and at-risk students, we must ask how reducing their hours and contact time with students can possibly be beneficial for these students or their education?
ESPs are an essential part of the public education workforce. NEA-NH recognizes and celebrates the contributions of the dedicated ESP members across the state.