Substitute teachers deserve a pay raise

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Editorials represent the opinion of the Lancer Spirit Editorial Board.

Substitute teacher Gerry Gulezian can get more money rolling burritos at Chipotle than he can for being a sub in the classroom.

He’s in charge of children, not burritos, and yet he makes less as a substitute teacher at LHS than he would as a Chipotle worker, who makes $10.50 an hour.

Is that fair?

No, it’s not.

A man who has given 21 years of his life to this school should make more than a 15-year-old kid pushing carts at Market Basket or scanning items at Target.

Gerry (as his students lovingly call him), his wife Mrs. Gulezian, and Mr. Wagoner, to name a few subs in the district, care not only about our education, but our future, and ultimately put our happiness above the size of their paychecks.

Even though these subs aren’t actively going on strike or leaving the school district for better opportunities, that doesn’t mean they don’t want and deserve a change in their pay.

In fact, doesn’t their loyalty deserve appreciation? Subs like Gerry will show up no matter what, so we want to show up for them, too.

As of right now, LHS is one of the lowest-paying schools in the state for substitute teachers, with certified subs only receiving $65 a day. This averages out to about $9.28 an hour. Shockingly, this figure has not changed since 1998.

Yes, you read that correctly: 1998. That is more than 20 years without a raise.

In those 20 years, the minimum wage has gone from $5.15 to the current rate of $7.25 an hour. The U.S. Department of Labor raised minimum wage to account for inflation, so why hasn’t the Londonderry School District acknowledged it?

Also, the U.S. Inflation Calculator states that what cost $65 in 1998 would cost $102.39 in 2019. Never mind giving the subs a raise, just keeping up with inflation would mean that our subs should be earning a minimum of $102.39.

After all, people simply want to be fairly compensated for the jobs they do. Even teenagers want this. And the subs wants this too.
The difference between teens and the subs, however, is that the starting pay of the jobs we, the less experienced workforce, are receiving is usually $10.00 an hour or more.

How is it that fast food establishments pay their workers more than a substitute teacher is paid in the district?

It’s not only our district that’s struggling with this problem though. Admittedly, other districts are also finding it difficult to find subs. Members of the school board have said this is because of how well the economy is doing. There simply aren’t enough people to fill in the many spots that districts have open because people don’t need the work like they did during the recession.

But this isn’t a valid excuse for why the pay hasn’t been increased.

The Concord School District pays their subs $130 a day and Pinkerton pays $75. So if there are subs out there, wouldn’t they choose to go to one of these higher paying districts?

Shouldn’t the fact that subs like Gerry, Mrs. Gulezian, and Mr. Wagoner, who have remained here for years out of loyalty to the Lancer family, count for something?

We think it should.

With the lack of subs, the pressure is always on the teachers and office administrator Mrs. Carasquillo to cover classes when teachers are absent. Carasquillo wakes up at 4 a.m. every morning to coordinate teacher absences and schedule substitute teachers.

When no outside subs are available, Carasquillo spends much of her time coordinating with teachers, asking them to give up their lunch or prep period to cover a class. Each teacher receives $20 for each class period they cover. As stated before, subs make $65 a day. The cost of paying five different teachers to cover five class periods is $100. It actually costs the district more money to do it this way.

This begs the question: If the district is paying teachers $20 dollars a class, why are we paying substitutes less than half that amount? It makes sense certified teachers would make more than a substitute teacher would. We get that. But for them to be making less than a McDonald’s worker is just plain insulting.

Shouldn’t we be paying them a wage that shows them what they mean to us and to fairly compensate them for the job they do? Shouldn’t we be giving these hard-working, loyal individuals the respect and dignity they deserve?

The subs are not being greedy for wanting to be paid fairly. After all, these substitutes aren’t here for the money. If they were, they wouldn’t be working in Londonderry. They’d go to Concord or Pinkerton or any of the other school districts in the state that pay more. No, they are here for the students, the staff and the district.

Together we’ve rallied behind our football team through the years of painful Mack Plaque defeats and triumphant victories. As a school we’ve marched along with the band as they’ve traveled around the world. We’ve been instilled with the philosophy that no child should be left behind, which has helped us achieve a 99% graduation rate. All in all, we are a pretty awesome school district.

Except in this one area.

It’s time we fix this and rally behind our subs. They deserve it.

After all, students in a classroom are a little more challenging to deal with than burritos are.

Editorials represent the opinion of The Lancer Spirit editorial board.

This story has been corrected from its original post published on Nov. 5.  The article originally stated the subs had not gotten a raise since 1989. This it not accurate. The subs actually have not gotten a raise since 1998, not 1989.

In 1998, the minimum wage has gone from $5.15 to the current rate of $7.25 an hour.

Also, the U.S. Inflation Calculator states that what cost $65 in 1998 would cost $102.39 in 2019.

These numbers have been corrected in the current article.