Greenfield paraprofessional contracts now fully funded

  • WEDEGARTNER

  • HARPER

Staff Writer
Published: 3/6/2020 9:01:27 PM
Modified: 3/6/2020 9:01:14 PM

GREENFIELD — The paraprofessionals’ (Unit C) contract has been fully funded, following a vote from the Greenfield School Committee on Wednesday after months of anticipation.

The committee used $169,099 from the School Choice Account of fiscal year 2019 to pay for the unfunded portion of the contract.

Last month, the City Council approved funding the city’s portion of the contract — $169,099 — through the Special Education Stabilization Account.

In the meeting held at the Greenfield Community Television studio, all but one School Committee member — Katie Caron, who has abstained from any votes on the paraprofessionals’ contract — voted in favor.

Greenfield School Department Finance Director Steve Nembirkow told the School Committee what the justification was for using money from the School Choice Account.

“Over the years, the money that’s come in has created a surplus balance in those accounts,” Nembirkow said. “So, you need two years of revenue in this account and there is more than two years of revenue in there.”

He said the surplus balance is about $475,000.

Superintendent Jordana Harper said there has been a lot of discussion on the paraprofessionals’ contract from both the previous and present School Committee, the public and others.

“I want to say categorically that we support our Unit C employees. We thank them for their patience,” Harper said. “For these members of our staff that have stayed with us through this process and been there with our students every day, we cannot thank you enough.”

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, also a School Committee member, echoed the same points Harper mentioned.

“I do believe and have believed all along that we should have already done this by now,” Wedegartner said.

The Greenfield School Committee voted to ratify the contract for paraprofessionals at its Nov. 13 meeting.

A tentative agreement was reached in August by the Greenfield School Committee and paraprofessionals, which the paraprofessionals ratified in August. However, the School Committee had not voted as a full board in agreement with that contract until November.

The Greenfield School Committee approved a $23 million all-funds budget in October, including the city’s $19 million contribution and $400,000 appropriated from multiple revolving accounts to cover a budget gap. At the time, it was unclear how the paraprofessionals’ contract would be funded.

In 2019, former Mayor William Martin said when the contract stabilization fund began in 2012, its purpose was to “show all the collective bargaining units we would have funds available for negotiations.” Annually, money was added to the fund; however, at the close of the 2019 fiscal year, that process did not occur.

“We brought to the council the financial orders necessary to refill/replenish the contract stabilization fund,” Martin said. “There was no quorum at the (special City Council meeting) July 15 and that process didn’t happen.”


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