Everett Public Schools paraeducators protest outside of the Everett School Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett Public Schools paraeducators protest outside of the Everett School Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett paraeducator wages increase as board approves new contract

Under the new contract, most paraeducators will see a pay increase of $1 or $2 an hour.

EVERETT — After months of bargaining and protesting, Everett Public Schools approved a bargaining agreement with paraeducators, boosting hourly pay by around a dollar or two for most positions.

At the school board meeting Jan. 30, the board unanimously approved the new agreement.

“The state is finally waking up to the fact that our paraeducators play an enormous role in our schools and they need to be compensated both financially and in work conditions in a way that reflects the work they do,” board member Caroline Mason said.

However, paraeducators still have work to do, said Laura Rogers, the union chapter president. Members of the union, Public School Employees of Washington, are set to resume bargaining with the district this spring.

“Our members are so grateful to the Everett School Board for approving our negotiated bargaining agreement,” Rogers said in an email. “We are hoping future negotiations go smoothly and that the Legislature decides to fund the proposed paraeducator wage increases to provide our hardworking paras with the livable wages that they deserve.”

The lowest pay rate on the new salary schedule is $22.55 hourly for an entry-level paraeducator, with the highest boosted to $43.94 for classroom specialists. Before, the range was $21.75 hourly to $38.

Meanwhile in Olympia, Senate Bill 6082 would increase paraeducator wages by $7 annually, and it would establish a statewide minimum wage for the 2026-2027 school year: $22 to $35 hourly, depending on certification.

It’s sponsored by Snohomish County Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, Sen. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, and Sen. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell, among others.

The new contract comes after outcry from Everett paraeducators, who have been calling for higher wages and better working conditions. At a protest in October, dozens of staffers raised concerns over student and educator safety, calling for more staff to safely monitor students.

Paraeducators usually only work during the school year, meaning the lower end of the pay grade isn’t enough to make a living. Many on staff worked multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Even if a paraeducator earning $22 hourly worked 40 hours a week, they would make around $34,000 during the school year.

What’s new for Everett paraeducators?

Under the new Everett contract, paraeducators get a raise if they sub for a higher-paid position for longer than four hours. And if paraeducators transfer to another position, their pay must either stay the same or increase.

A new section was added to the contract to clarify staff and student rights around student behavior. The district must “recognize and support a paraeducator’s use of such reasonable physical restraint as is necessary and lawful” to protect themselves, other staff or students from “attack, physical abuse, or injury.”

If a student has been removed from a classroom for attacking or threatening a paraeducator, they can’t return without consent from the paraeducator or until the matter has been discussed between the paraeducator and administration.

The agreement says any discipline for paraeducators must be delivered in private. And the district must provide safety training for special education paraeducators.

Ashley Nash: 425-339-3037; ashley.nash@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @ash_nash00.

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