MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ) – Paraprofessionals in the Marquette Area Public School district expressed their compensation concerns Monday, March 20 at the MAPS school board meeting.
Superintendent Zack Sedgwick said the three-year collective bargaining agreement prevents the district from making any immediate salary changes.
“By far the most expensive part of our special education budget is staffing, and so when you look at staffing that has some pretty serious implications,” said Sedwick.
MAPS’s annual deficit is estimated at $2.5 million in special education funding, creating a significant gap in the number of recourses available in the schools. Within about the last 10 years, the special education student body has increased by 20%.
“The more students that you have needed those services the more staff you need to support them. So you’re spreading a budget across more people and more services and that’s obviously challenging,” said Sedgwick.
Across Marquette County’s 12 school districts and one public school academy, the shortfall for special education programs in the region has almost reached $5 million. On May 2, there will be a question on the Marquette voters’ ballots asking them to approve a 1.5 millage tax increase.
“That millage would raise almost 5 million dollars to address that shortfall,” said Sedgwick.
Sedgwick notes the approval of the millage would result in 20 years of more funding for special education in Marquette Area Public Schools.
The MAPS school board approved a variety of measures in a teacher appreciation package at Monday’s meeting. These measures include a signing/retention bonus, paid professional development, and additional sick leave.