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Letter to the Editor: It’s time to invest in school support staff at ISD #186

Our jobs are rarely easy, but we chose them to touch students’ lives

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We are part of The Trust Project.

I am writing on behalf of ISD #186’s Local 284 employees: cafeteria, clerical, custodial, school nurses and paraprofessional staff.

This group at the Pequot Lakes School District is among the lowest paid school employees in Minnesota.

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For the last two years, Local 284 wage increases have been $0.26 per year. The two years prior to that, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, were frozen at $0.00 increases.

Patriot Pride? It doesn’t feel like everybody is being included.

Our jobs are rarely easy, but we chose them to touch students’ lives: Feeding them meals, healing their scrapes, keeping their workspace and bathrooms clean, enriching their lessons and so much more.

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We do jobs many say they couldn’t or wouldn’t. We know we’re not going to get rich as public employees, but ISD #186 can and must do better.

Meanwhile, our students always receive the best of what we have to offer emotionally, academically, professionally and, frankly, with love.

I will share that I earn $17.52 per hour as a top-scale head secretary with 12 years of service in ISD #186. And I am paid more than most within our Local 284 employees.

We had hoped this would be a negotiation year where the board would champion, and without excuse, recognize the value of its noncertified staff, especially given the worldwide events of recent years.

Our work is instrumental in the continued high-quality education ISD #186 offers and its families expect.

It’s time to focus on the employees who are fundamentally as valuable as bus drivers, teachers, administrators and district office employees.

In a show of support, please email or call our Pequot Lakes School Board members and Superintendent Stumpf. Contact information for board members can be found at https://www.isd186.org/domain/20.

Carrie Chiodi,

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Breezy Point

On behalf of Local 284

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