SHARON – The Sharon City School Board voted unanimously on Monday to approve outsourcing the employment of teacher’s aide employees hired after July 1 and current district employees with less than five years of service.
School board members Deborah Roberson and Eric Wenger both said that to their understanding, the district has not decided on any action.
“We’re going to direct the negotiating committee to speak with you guys during negotiations,” Roberson told those aides present — classified as paraprofessionals. “It could be rejected on any side. It’s just giving the district an opportunity to see what can or cannot happen.”
But Erica Argenziano, president-
elect of the Sharon Teachers Association, said outsourcing those paraprofessionals takes away 50% of the union representation — the Sharon Education Support Professional Association, or SESPA.
“It’s also very convenient that in the middle of SESPA’s contract negotiations that have been ongoing for months, you will eliminate 50% of their membership in one vote. There goes their bargaining power,” Argenziano said.
Argenziano said the district is exploring an outside contract because it has been unable to fill vacant positions
“But they will now no longer have healthcare, they’ll have to buy it on their own,” Argenziano said. “They’ll no longer have retirement benefits, and now they’ll no longer have union protection.”
Argenziano said the paraprofessionals might get a small increase in salary but it wouldn’t make up for those costs.
“Is this going to cost us many of the paras we already have?” Argenziano asked the board. “I’m afraid it’s going to cause good employees to leave and we need them in our classrooms. We cannot lose them.”
Andrea Brewer, a Sharon resident and paraprofessional at Sharon Middle High School, said the aids provide specialized teaching by assisting students who have individualized education plans with classwork, homework, behavior intervention, and with those that are nonverbal.
She said outsourced paraprofessionals are not required to take training classes to meet Chapter 14 requirements.
“I have had to cover for outsourced aides who simply do not show up,” Brewer said. “There is no accountability for them and they are not loyal.”
Brewer told school directors that the paraprofessionals have all remained committed to the district and their respective schools, teachers, administration and students.
“To outsource those with up to five years in this district is not the solution,” Brewer said. “We all choose to work for Sharon City School District because we all feel and know we can make a difference in our students’ lives.”
She wanted the board to know that teachers and students have told the paraprofessionals in the district that they make a difference in their lives because of the extra support they provide.
“From the bottom of my heart, I don’t want to be outsourced,” Brewer said. “ I just don’t. I’m from Colorado, this is the best district I’ve worked for.”
Superintendent Justi Glaros said board took the action so it could continue negotiation conversations.
“Know that we’ve not yet entered into an agreement and the details of an agreement for outsourcing have not been finalized with any outsourcing companies,” Glaros said. “This just allows us to move further in the negotiation process.”
She stressed that an agreement would not be on the table Monday.
“An agreement will come later, which will then finalize the plan moving forward, and that will take board approval as well,” Glaros said. “This more so secures a step for us to move next. But know that this does not in any way dictate the final details that will be discussed in a negotiation meeting.”
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