Warren County R-III high-needs professionals are slated to make at least $22 per hour in the 2023-2024 after the R-III Board of Education approved the one-to-one paraprofessional pay scale at last …
Warren County R-III high-needs professionals are slated to make at least $22 per hour in the 2023-2024 after the R-III Board of Education approved the one-to-one paraprofessional pay scale at last week’s meeting.
The board unanimously approved a motion to approve the one-to-one paraprofessional pay scale as presented. The recommended pay range for high needs paraprofessionals is $22 to $27.97 per hour. A paraprofessional would qualify as a high needs paraprofessional if they provide full time services for a student who has 1,500 minutes or more per week of paraprofessional access in their Individualized Education Program.
Warren County R-III superintendent Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith said a school district is reimbursed for any expense for a special education student that is three times higher than the expenses of a traditionally educated student. Klinginsmith said the net cost for the district to increase the paraprofessional pay is about $300. The district would need to increase the high needs para’s pay by $6,800 but would receive $6,500 in reimbursement.
“It’s not perfect but it’s pretty close,” Klinginsmith said. “But to me, I thought that might be a way we can do this.”
One of the main downsides of the plan is if a student moves on, the high needs paraprofessional position would no longer be available. The paraprofessional may have to go back to a standard paraprofessional position, which would be a decrease in pay. Klinginsmith stressed they would first try to transfer that paraprofessional to another high needs paraprofessional position if there is a vacancy. If no high needs paraprofessional position is open, they could go back to a standard paraprofessional position. The pay range for standard paraprofessionals is $14 to $19.97 per hour.
“That position would be eliminated,” Klinginsmith said. “That does happen from time to time with our hourly staff when the position is no longer needed and that position goes away. We do try to find places for people to go but sometimes it’s just unfortunate.”
Board Vice-President Sarah Janes noted the high needs paraprofessional would most likely have job security but not financial security. The district currently had 10 vacancies as of last week’s board meeting.
Janes also asked about the paraprofessional stipends. The district provided stipends to paraprofessionals this school year from funds that were not utilized due to paraprofessional vacancies in the district.
Klinginsmith stressed the stipends would be separated into a high needs paraprofessional fund and a standard paraprofessional fund.
“We’ll look at those vacancies,” Klinginsmith said. “If there’s vacancies in the traditional para positions as we agreed in our agreement, in November, that’s when they would receive additional stipends for shortages in those areas. So most likely, the group that’s going to be a stipend would be the ones with the lower pay.”
Board President Franci Schwartz stressed the importance of paraprofessionals in the schools in the district. They meet needs many people would not be willing to meet, Schwartz said.
“It makes a difference,” Schwartz said. “I think it’s important to try to do what we can to compensate those people and try to fill as many positions as we can…It’s been a problem for a while. It’s not getting better.”