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Stonington increases substitute teacher pay to $150 a day

Stonington — Superintendent of Schools Van Riley told the Board of Education on Thursday night that beginning Friday the school system will raise its substitute teacher pay to $150 a day, which he said is the highest in the area.

In addition, paraprofessionals who fill in as substitute teachers also will earn $150 a day. Any staff member who refers a person to be a substitute teacher or paraprofessional will receive $500 if the referred person is hired. The referral fee began Monday.

The school system, like many others, has struggled to staff classrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two weeks ago the school board instructed Riley to develop a plan to attract more substitute teachers and paraprofessionals, including raising pay.

The school system already had increased the pay for substitutes from $95 to $125 a day and the 2022-23 budget calls for raises for paraprofessionals to bring them in line with what other districts pay.

Riley told the board that the $25-per-day pay increase for substitutes can be funded by the current budget. 

Board members also have suggested hiring more full-time substitutes, who earn $226 a day, providing stability for both the substitute teachers and school system.

After reading a list of comments Thursday from paraprofessionals, who described the important work they do and said they are overworked, feel undervalued and are leaving for better pay in other districts, board member Dan Kelley, the former head of the paraprofessionals union, recommended the board approve a $1,000 bonus for both newly hired and current paraprofessionals. 

Kelley's attempt to add the proposal to the agenda failed by a 4-3 vote, so no decision was made on the plan.

Board Chairman Farouk Rajab said all staff members, including teachers, custodians, nurses and others, are working hard. "We have to recognize them and treat them equally," he said. "I can't support a bonus for one and not the others."

He added that the board has a responsibility to taxpayers and what Kelley was proposing would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, money that the school system does not have in the budget. Riley added that the board's attorney advised against approving the bonuses because of legal ramifications.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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