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June 23. 2013 9:35PM

Derry residents to vote on school paraprofessionals' contract

DERRY — Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide the fate of a revised three-year contract between the school district and the district’s paraprofessional employees.

The two sides initially came to an agreement earlier this year, but that proposed three-year contract was voted down by residents at the March town election.

Polls will be open at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The new contract includes smaller pay raises for the paraprofessionals over the next three years and will cost about $27,000 less than the original agreement over the course of the contract.

The money to cover the cost of the pay increases is in the approved 2013-14 school year budget, according to School Board member Neal Ochs.

The new agreement calls for pay increases of 10 cents per hour the first year, 15 cents the second year and 15 cents the third year. Originally, the contract called for a 15-cent raise the first year and a 25-cent raise in the third year.

The revised contract was moved forward to the ballot at a school district deliberative session last month, despite the efforts of some residents to zero out the proposed salary increase for the educational assistants.

Lynn Perkins said the school district lost the trust of the public when the proposed 2013-14 school budget was increased by $800,000 during the February district meeting.

“The real issue is with the total amount of spending,” said Perkins. He said not only should the educational assistants not get a raise, but suggested that all pay raises in the town and the school district should be off the table for the foreseeable future.

However, a motion at the deliberative session to nix the pay increase was defeated.

The School Board supports the revised contract proposal.

“I think this is an excellent agreement, and both sides were able to come to an agreement rather quickly,” said Ochs. “I think this will benefit everyone involved, including the taxpayers. I think it’s a fairly substantial savings over the original proposal, which I thought was reasonable in and of itself.”aswift@newstote.com

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