Wiscasset to increase some school workers’ wages to meet minimum wage hike, attract workers

Posted:  Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 7:30am
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Special education is down six educational technician III’s, new Wiscasset Special Education Director Susan Prince told the school committee Tuesday night. Special education serves 132 students  and another five in the Anchor program. She said it’s because  ed tech III pay in Wiscasset is too low.

Ed tech IIIs start at $11 and $12 per hour, depending on experience, while other districts pay $14-17 per hour, including school districts nearby, such as Regional School Units 1 and 12, Prince said.

Prince said two ed tech IIIs have resigned this month to take jobs with better paying districts. The director of the behavioral day treatment program, Abigail Lourie, said she has a waiting list of eight students who cannot start until staffing is sufficient. Teacher Andrea Lovell has recently been hired, but several ed tech III’s are needed to further expand the program.

Superintendent Terry Wood said besides the base salary disparity, another issue has come to her attention. In January, the state’s minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour. Substitute teachers and ed techs will not earn this if there are no changes, and there will also be an issue of new hires earning more than existing employees. Substitute pay was increased at the meeting, by a 5-0 vote, from $80 to $85 per day for both teachers and ed techs, bringing substitutes up to $10.62 until January when the pay will need to be addressed again.

The discussion will continue next month. Other jobs difficult to fill include custodians and food service employees, both earning around $11 per hour. Maintenance and Transportation Director John Merry , said he had to pay a summer custodian $14 per hour.

A series of new hires were announced, including Wiscasset Middle High School Principal Charles Lomonte, who was at his first school committee meeting; Warren Cossette, assistant principal; Kathleen Bridges, ed tech III for Wiscasset Elementary School; Robert Applebee, assistant athletic director; and Lovell, Anchor teacher.

Telephone work is expected to begin soon. The buildings will have phones that can communicate with one another, with a phone in every classroom, as well as internet support. By Oct. 26, the energy project will be complete, Merry said. He is also looking at contractors to remove some old fuel tanks and replace them with above ground tanks. He will look into how much fuel the schools use, compared to other town departments.

WES’s open house  is Sept. 19; and plans  are being made for an after school support program for students grades 3-5 Monday through Thursday in the library. Principal Stacy White said Midcoast Conservancy will provide outdoor education for students in fourth and fifth grade. Lomonte said his students are participating in a Community Service Day on Sept. 28. Ninth graders will take part in the Coastal Cleanup at Hermit Island in Phippsburg; grade 10 students will work on trails near Wiscasset Community Center and the park near the superintendent’s office; Grade 11 students will work indoors, including doing painting, and outdoors, doing weeding and other cleanup; grade 12 will be doing individual and small group service projects.

Lomonte said homecoming is Friday, Sept. 28 and Saturday, Sept. 29.