Members of the Evesham Township Education Association (ETEA) will be rallying at the Evesham School District’s Board of Education meeting today, Thursday, Oct. 22, at DeMasi Middle School from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
ETEA members are gathering at the meeting because, earlier this month, district Superintendent Dr. Justin Smith unexpectedly reduced the hours of over 150 paraprofessionals. The reduction in hours threatens to eliminate the health benefits for some of those employees. The unnecessary move comes in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 16,000 New Jerseyans. The members of the ETEA aim to have the Board overturn the decision. The ETEA is also encouraging parents and community members to attend to ask the Board to reverse the decision.
“It’s simply unacceptable,” declared ETEA President Debbie VanCuren. “Our ETEA paraprofessionals are an absolutely vital part of this school community and our community at-large. In Evesham, we treat each other with respect and decency. Superintendent Smith’s decision to reduce the hours of our district’s most dedicated and hardworking employees is nothing short of disgraceful.”
“It’s not just about the hours, this is about public health” VanCuren continued. “As we approach the winter months, all the experts predict COVID-19 cases will rise in our community. Especially during these uncertain times, our paraprofessionals deserve the dignity of maintaining their health benefits throughout this pandemic. The overwhelming majority of our members impacted by this extreme and unnecessary move are people who live right here in Evesham Township. We should be looking out for each and supporting one another – not cutting off access to affordable healthcare.”
“We have a collective bargaining agreement in place” pointed out VanCuren. “Both us, the members of ETEA, and the Board of Education agreed to the terms and conditions in that contract. This decision undermines our agreement, and it is a slap in the face to every ETEA member who has gone above and beyond to make our school year successful despite the extraordinary challenges we face. We are urging parents and community members to support our paraprofessionals by asking the Board of Education to enforce our contract as agreed upon and to reverse this callous decision.”
For more information about the ETEA, visit its website here.