R-III School District paying extra stipends to paraprofessionals

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 11/21/22

The Warren County R-III School Board has approved additional monthly stipend pay for paraprofessionals. 

The board voted 6-1 to approve the use of up to $100,000 of current budget funds for …

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R-III School District paying extra stipends to paraprofessionals


The Warren County R-III School Board has approved additional monthly stipend pay for paraprofessionals. 

The board voted 6-1 to approve the use of up to $100,000 of current budget funds for stipends to paraprofessionals until the end of the district’s fiscal year.

District Superintendent Gregg Klinginsmith had initially recommended last week that the board approve a $2 per hour pay increase for paraprofessionals from $12 an hour to $14 an hour. As of last week’s meeting, the district had 12 vacant paraprofessional positions in the district. 

Klinginsmith said the move to increase pay mid-year is unusual, but he thinks the district’s paraprofessional staffing will get worse if the district does not take action. He also noted the paraprofessional shortage leads to a shortage in substitute teachers, since substitute teachers are placed in paraprofessional classrooms.

“Right now, we are definitely in an emergency situation,” Klinginsmith said. “I feel that we need to take some action to address this.”

Klinginsmith projected there would be no budgetary cost this year to increase the pay, saying the vacant paraprofessional positions had left the district with unspent funds. He said the district’s concern would be how this would impact future budget years. 

Assistant Superintendent Brad Ross added that the district has both a recruitment and retention issue. 

“Of the eight that we’ve been able to hire since July, four either did not start or have since left,” Ross said. “As much as recruitment is an issue, retention is also an issue.”

Board members Franci Schwartz and Rodger Tucker were two of the board members who raised concerns about the board approving wage increases outside of the district’s usual negotiation process. This was a concern Klinginsmith acknowledged while making his recommendation. Schwartz said she sees the need for the pay increase, but was concerned about deficit spending and approving the increase out of order. 

Tucker questioned the precedent this would set moving forward with other positions in the district. He did not like the reactive nature of the decision. 

“I don’t like reactive situations,” Tucker said. “I have troubles, too, approving this and what precedent that would set moving forward (for) the other groups that aren’t compensated correctly.”

Board member Sarah Janes said the paraprofessional position is important for the students. It is a position parents of a child rely on to be an advocate for a student. Janes’ concern was the finances of the wage increase. She asked what the district’s plan would be if they still have the staffing issue while paying $14 an hour. 

“There were larger, way bigger budgeted districts that are in this exact same scenario,” Janes said. “And they’re holding hiring fairs. And they’re trying to do all these things. And they are struggling to fill these positions as well. And so it’s not that I’m so negative that I don’t think this will do anything. It’s that I don’t know if it’ll be enough, and that’s my fear.” 

Board member Rich Barton was the lone board member to vote against the motion to grant additional stipends to paraprofessionals. He instead supported the direct $2 per hour pay increase recommended by Klinginsmith.

A former educator in the district, Barton’s biggest concern since he joined the school board in April was substitute teaching. He stressed that with the state’s minimum wage increase to $12 an hour early next year, the $12 an hour pay rate for paraprofessionals will effectively serve as a pay decrease.

“These folks are going to be at $12 an hour,” Barton said. “They’re going to take a pay cut. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but really it is in your head. I think (a pay increase) is something we must do. I’m highly in favor.”

The remainder of the board elected to not give the $2 per hour raise, but instead use available funds to provide stipends to paraprofessionals for the remainder of the school year. 

“I do think it was a good way to increase the pay for the paras without locking us into something that we may not be able to do next year,” board member Ginger Schenck said. “So I thought we were very creative. I understand Rich’s concern. We want to invest in people long term, but I also understand the budget concerns that we have. We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re locked into something next year that we can’t afford.”

Warren County School District, Pay, Salary, Paraprofessional