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Derry district reaches deal with paraprofessionals

DERRY - The school district and the union representing the district's paraprofessional employees have reached an agreement on a new three-year contract.

The district and the union, which includes teachers' aides and educational assistants, had previously agreed to a contract, but that contract was not approved by voters at the March 12 town election.

The new contract includes smaller pay raises for the paraprofessionals over the next three years and will cost $28,500 less than the original agreement over the course of the contract.

According to district business manager Jane Simard, the money to cover the cost of the pay increases is in the approved 2013-14 school year budget.

"This will not add any money to the budget and will come out of existing funds," she said.

The new agreement calls for pay increases of 10 cents per hour the first year, 15 cents the second year and 15 cents the third year. Originally, the contract called for a 15 cent raise the first year and a 25 cent raise in the third year.

"I think this is an excellent agreement, and both sides were able to come to an agreement rather quickly," said School Board member Neal Ochs. "I think this will benefit everyone involved, including the taxpayers. I think it's a fairly substantial savings over the original proposal, which I thought was reasonable in and of itself."

The paraprofessionals union chair, Linda Hawkins, said she appreciated the school district heading back to the negotiating table so quickly after the original agreement failed at the ballot box.

"We worked very hard to be reasonable as far as what we needed," she said. "We're trying to give us a little growth and to keep the people we have. We have some very talented people from many walks of life who come in to work with us."

The deliberative session for the new contract agreement is scheduled for the School Board's Tuesday, May 14, meeting at 6 p.m. at the West Running Brook Middle School.

The ballot vote on the agreement is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25, with the location to be announced.

"I was disappointed this did not pass the first time," said School Board Chairman Brenda Willis. "It would be helpful for people to realize how hard (paraprofessionals) work and the services they provide."

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