Food service workers, paraprofessionals could get raises

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Food service workers and paraprofessionals are next up for the PECC to solidify salary schedule recommendations.

Food service workers and paraprofessionals are next up for the PECC to solidify salary schedule recommendations.

Food service managers, lunch cooks and paraprofessionals in Delaware schools could soon see a bump in their paychecks. 

The Public Education Compensation Committee Monday night discussed increasing food service managers’ and lunch cooks’ pay 2.5% starting in the 2024-2025 school year. 

It did not vote to recommend the raises, but is expected to at its June 12 meeting.

This would be in addition to the 3% general increase for all educators for the 2023-2024 school year that is included in Gov. John Carney’s recommended budget.

Depending on the hours worked, position and number of students a school’s cafeteria serves, food service workers would make between $15.01 per hour or up to $28,880 a year.

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The proposal would cost the state, which funds 73% of a food service manager’s pay, $20,385,412. 

The 15-person committee was formed at the beginning of this school year to make recommendations to the state on how to raise pay in the education system to better compete regionally, especially for teachers as the nation battles a teacher shortage.

Notably, the state has been pressured by Maryland, which passed a law that would bring the starting salaries of teachers to $60,000 by the 2026-2027 school year.

Thus far, the committee has finalized recommendations on a proposal that would bring teacher’s starting pay to $60,000, phased over four years, and also voted on proposals that would give secretaries and custodians raises. 

RELATED: Heated debate ends in vote to raise teacher pay over 4 years

RELATED: School pay committee sets raises for secretaries, custodians

The committee Monday discussed a proposal that would give paraprofessionals a 1% increase in pay for the 2024-2025 school year – again, in addition to the 3% pay boost for all educators in the 2023-2024 year – while also giving incentivized stipends. 

Those with an associate’s degree and a paraprofessional certification would get a $1,000 stipend and those with a bachelor’s degree would earn a stipend of $2,000.

Under the proposal, paraprofessionals would make anywhere from $24,073 to $38,371 by 2024-2025.

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Delaware currently has 450 service paraprofessionals who provide support services other than instructional assistance, and 2,767 instructional paraprofessionals who provide instructional assistance to students.

If adopted, the proposal would cost the state $108,568,599. 

Committee members have pointed out numerous times that they’re job isn’t to figure out how to fit the raises into the state budget, their job is to make recommendations to make the state’s educator market competitive. Still, several have said the recommendations have more credence when they can realistically be worked into the state’s budget. 

The Joint Finance Committee is responsible for making the state’s budget and giving it to the Delaware House and Senate to vote on.. 

In addition to voting the salary suggestions at its next meeting, the Public Education Compensation Committee will introduce salary scale options for bus drivers. 

Watch the June 12 meeting, which starts at 4:30 p.m., here

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