SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A package has been agreed between the Springfield Public Schools and a union to ensures paraprofessionals’ salary and holiday pay increases.

The salary increases will be made retroactive to July 2020 under the proposed four-year agreement. This change in salary increases the hourly rate of starting paraprofessionals to $18 an hour. The change includes salary increases for all paraprofessionals based on the number of years they have worked in the district.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said, “I would like to first thank Superintendent Warwick, Labor Attorney Sean Sweeney, our negotiation team, and Paraprofessionals Union President Catherine Mastronardi for coming together, though contentious at times, for a contract agreement that is fair, appropriate and sustainable. This contract agreement respects our paraprofessionals and taxpayers. As a veteran of many union contract negotiations, I know there is always an ebb and flow to it. As I stated from the beginning and at our most recent School Committee meeting, our/my goal is always to get these issues resolved fairly ASAP. Thank you, paraprofessionals, for your continued and dedicated efforts to our students and teachers.”

Catherine Mastronardi, president of the Springfield Federation of Paraprofessionals (SFP), stated, “I am so pleased to have a successful conclusion to contract negotiations so that paraprofessionals can get back to what we do best, which is serving the students of Springfield Public Schools and making difference. I believe this contract serves the interest of paraprofessionals by increasing our beginning hourly rate, and I think it shows respect for our members and an overall understanding of the value that we bring to the school system.”

The package was created by the Springfield Public Schools (SPS) administration and the paraprofessionals’ union after two years of negotiations while adapting to changes brought on by COVID.

“We place a great deal of value on the tremendous service our paraprofessionals perform day in and day out and we hope our compensation package reflects that,” said Superintendent Daniel Warwick.

Another part of the package adds Juneteenth as a paid holiday. The proposed addition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday will bring the number of annual paid holidays for Springfield Public Schools’ paraprofessionals to 15, compared to three for many other districts.

According to a previous news release from Springfield Pubic Schools Chief Communications Officer, Azell Cavaan there have been persistent efforts from the Springfield schools to negotiate a fair contract with paraprofessionals.