Personal aides and substitute teachers gathered at a packed cafeteria during Tuesday evening’s school board meeting at the Board of Education to object to the recent plan to outsource substitutes and personal aides.
“These are our jobs they’re trying to outsource,” says a concerned personal aide who wished to remain anonymous. She went person to person asking substitute teachers and personal aides to sign a petition to stop the outsourcing plan. At the time she had filled the paper with 150 signatures, she needed 500.
The petition states, “To privatize these positions is an insult to the profession, an insult to the teacher and a major disadvantage to those who matter most… the students.” It uses School 2, located on Passaic Street, as an example of where personal aides are needed the most. “At School #2 we have a very special population of children with Autism. These children require constant supervision, consistency, and well-trained, dedicated, and committed staff members.” The petition goes on to say that this has failed in every other district, so why would it work out here?
Christopher Irving, president of the board, told people “We are not outsourcing substitutes and personal aides.” Mr Irving continued to explain why the discussion of outsourcing substitutes and personal aides was on the agenda. “There are 70 kids who are in need of personal aides outside and apart from positions that currently exist in the district. Last year we identified 70 children who need PAs, those 70 positions do not exist presently and they do not exist in the district. We got to find a way to provide for those 70 children because we do not have the money because we are flat funded because we have not raised taxes in this town we got to figure out how to get these kids those services, so that’s how we come to this point.”
The school board hopes to hire a company that would provide certified teachers who are qualified to handle special needs children. In schools that are in need of long term substitutes, where a teacher is on a leave of absence, a temporary replacement would be provided until a permanent one is found. The hired company would also take care of any technical aspects. A district official who took to the podium without announcing her name, said “We won’t have to maintain our SubFinder system in the district, the company would have… any technological systems we need. The process, substitute preference all that will remain same except we would not have to maintain and pay those maintenance fees.” Thus, killing SubFinder, a substitute hiring webpage.
For this year 2013-2014 the renewal of 70 positions will cost $2.1 million salary and $1.4 million in health benefits. By January 2015 the board plans to provide for 12 full time staff members. Full time defined as anyone working more than 30 hours.
Mr Irving encouraged residents to keep coming to these meetings and to write to the governor because, “If he [Governor Chris Christie] were to fully fund us nobody in this room would be here tonight.”