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NORTH PROVIDENCE – Certain employees in North Providence, including substitute secretaries, substitute paraprofessionals, substitute custodians, and yard monitors are receiving a pay increase motivated by the state’s increasing of the minimum wage.

The School Committee, at its Oct. 27 meeting, approved rate increases for the positions, including:

• Substitute custodians receiving a raise from $13 to $15;

• Substitute paraprofessionals receiving a raise from $12 to $15;

• Substitute secretaries receiving a raise from $12 to $15;

• And yard monitors receiving a raise from $12.54 to $15.

Supt. Joe Goho noted the great difficulty the district has been having in filling positions, in line with what many other districts are experiencing. He said Human Resources Director Matthew Hicks put considerable research into the changes.

Hicks, in his memo to the school board on Oct. 21, mentioned Gov. Dan McKee’s signing of legislation raising the state minimum wage to $15 over the next four years, the first phase of which raises it from $11.50 to $12.25 per hour starting in January.

Hicks said it has become clear to him that not only are some surrounding districts compensating these positions at a higher hourly rate, but the district is also competing with local businesses that are offering higher hourly rates for entry-level positions. Some examples are:

• Central Falls, Lincoln, Pawtucket and Warwick now compensating substitute custodians, paraprofessionals and secretaries at $15 and $16 per hour;

• Certain Dunkin’ locations in Johnston, North Providence, Pawtucket and Providence hiring entry-level crew members at $15 per hour;

• Olive Garden now hiring dishwashers at $16 per hour;

• And JaniClean hiring janitors at between $16 and $18 per hour.

“The district must prepare itself for the ongoing staffing shortages, as it is likely that there will be many staff-related quarantines and other illnesses that the district is not a adequately prepared to backfill,” he wrote.

For competitive reasons and the need to maintain a sanitary and safe learning and work environment, as well as the required support services for students, Hicks recommended the increases for the four groups of employees. Prior to the school board’s vote to approve them, he said he consulted with the district’s finance director, Lisa Casinelli, to confirm that the increases are supported in the existing budget.

Among other items taken up at the Oct. 27 School Committee meeting, the board:

• Recognized Centredale Elementary School teacher Heather Morrison for winning the Golden Apple Award. Goho called her an “outstanding, energetic and hard-working” teacher who goes above and beyond in teaching her students and addressing their social and emotional needs and helps colleagues with the resources she gains. In one of the highest honors for a teacher, Morrison was nominated by a parent, Joanne Reed, he noted. Reed is the mother of three sons.

• Recognized the town’s Little League champions for their Little League World Series run, members saying they couldn’t be more proud of what the team and its coaches accomplished.

• And approved school safety and emergency plans, a process that was done in closed session to keep them confidential.

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