$1.3M given to MNPS will pay for paraprofessionals' raises - WSMV News 4

Portion of $2M given to Metro Schools will pay for paraprofessionals' raises

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Metro Nashville Public Schools was given an additional $2 million this week in this year's budget, and News4 has learned a large portion of it will go toward raises for paraprofessionals.

Previously, MNPS Director Dr. Shawn Joseph said he would need an additional $1.3 million in order to give those raises. The News4 I-Team has learned part of that money will also go toward AP testing in the district.

Last year, the News4 I-Team uncovered a shortage of paraprofessionals in the classroom. Because of that, students with special needs have not all been getting the attention they need while at school and dozens of vacancies for paraprofessionals remain.

Paraprofessionals focus on making sure children with special needs get the attention they need.

"It's a thankless job but they are so wonderful at what they do,” said Carolyn Shofner who has a 17-year-old daughter with special needs at Hillsboro High School.

PREVIOUS STORIES: Teacher's aide says lack of paraprofessionals affecting students with special needsCouncilman plans to request more funding for classroom after I-Team investigationMNPS promises changes after I-Team investigation exposes shortage of paraprofessionals

When Shofner heard her daughters caretaker at school would be getting a raise she was thrilled.

"So many were leaving mid-year when they would get a better job offer to do something less stressful, or easier for the same or more pay,” she said.

And now she hopes this raise, which will be given to all 900 paraprofessionals will not only keep them but also hire new ones.

The I-Team has been telling you for months how the district has had dozens of openings. Metro Councilman Russ Pulley fought for the extra cash.

"It’s our understanding that that money will be going to paraprofessional raises and the AP testing that was kept out of the budget,” said Pulley.

Metro Schools Superintendent Dr. Shawn Joseph was unavailable for our repeated requests for an interview about the budget.

“A portion of the additional two million dollars will go to support crucial work at MNPS giving paraprofessionals a much-deserved pay scale adjustment. We have approximately nine hundred paraprofessionals, which includes education assistants, paraprofessionals and instructional aides. This adjustment is considered a reclassification of the position from a grade 4 to 6. The duties are unchanged and no one needs to reapply for their position," a district spokesperson said in a statement.

The $1.3 million will be used to give all paraprofessional a raise. Other funds with go to AP testing. The school district has not said where else that money will go.

"I'm so grateful to you all for bringing this issue to the forefront. It’s never enough but it's something in this particularly tight budget year,” said Shofner.

Paraprofessionals can expect to see the raise in their August 24 paycheck.

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