Letter to the editor: Making better classrooms

To the editor:

As parents of one or more students attending New York Elementary and members of the New York PTA, we would like to explain to you how recent district contract discussions affect our small school, especially our most vulnerable students. We are informed of the issues. We support:

• A higher base salary ($2,200) for all USD 497 teachers starting with no experience and reflected in step increases for teachers with years of service or education. We value our teachers; a raise may prevent our teachers from leaving for any district nearby with higher salaries.

• Guaranteed teacher professional pay rate for all parent-teacher conferences and committees. Classroom emergency evacuations due to a student’s violent behavior are normalized by first grade. Students exhibiting these kinds of behaviors may need as much time and attention as a student with an Individualized Education Program, but have no mandated extra conferences. We also need our teachers at PTA meetings so we can do everything we can to support a comprehensive trauma-informed school.

• Living wages for paraeducators. This year there have not been enough paras; this affects all children in the classroom, not just students who need a paraeducator.

• Verbiage in the Master Agreement of a warning/ safety plan for teachers to know which students have had a history of violent behavior. We support doing everything we can to avoid preventable injuries.

By supporting teachers and paraprofessionals, the district supports our most vulnerable children.

Jamie St. Viva,

president, New York PTA

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