The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Letter to the Editor: Brandywine School Board Silences Debate over Subcontracting Paraprofessionals


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dear Editor;
The Brandywine Heights School Board prevented public discussion regarding the subcontracting of its Paraprofessionals (39) at its March 4th Board meeting. The Board strategically skipped over the subject of subcontracting its paraprofessional staff, but they provided ample time to discuss other issues of less importance at nausea. The item was not even mentioned in passing.
Brandywine’s paraprofessionals are a valuable workforce to its students, parents, teachers and the community at large. Students develop a learning connection with paraprofessionals as many students have learning needs which require additional instruction from a paraprofessional. Paraprofessionals develop a relationship with parents of special needs students as an extension of a child’s classroom experience. Paraprofessionals assist classroom teachers with lessons and activities for students in need. Brandywine’s paraprofessionals are community stakeholders as the majority reside in the District, shop in local stores. Their value cannot be discounted or reduced to a line item on a budget, or a forgotten item on the Board agenda.
The Brandywine School Board’s actions appear to not value paraprofessional services. The Board’s vote to advertise for Request for Proposals (RFP)is the first step to subcontract their jobs to a private company. If subcontracted, the current employees are no longer Brandywine employees. Therefore, students and parents can be severed from the valuable services of the paraprofessionals. Consistency and quality of the private company is unknown whereas the current workforce is proven as highly professional and reliable. The have all meet the highly qualified status mandated by the government.
The paraprofessionals wanted to ask the Board to consider the pleas that parent’s of special education students expressed at previous Board meetings. But, we were not given the opportunity. This is more than a job....we reap great rewards in seeing our students success in their academic endeavors.
Contrary to the Board’s belief , paraprofessionals are a SMALL budgetary item for taxpayers. They earn a starting hourly wage of $9.50. Most paraprofessionals do not qualify for employer provided health care. It is sinful that the Board would not only begin the subcontracting process, but to SILENCE community input into this matter is unconscionable.
Sincerely
Carol S. Bortz, President
Brandywine Heights Education Support Professional Association
Paraprofessional Brandywine Heights School District