TECUMSEH — Tecumseh Public Schools instructional assistants, who serve special needs students, will see a 5% pay increase, retroactive to the beginning of the school year for current employees.
Still, the highest paid IA with 20-plus years of service will be paid just $15.88 an hour.
The increase will cost the district $90,324, which will come from the general fund. There was a 10% hike in IA pay in the 2020-21 school year, which also covered IAs in the 2021-22 school year.
“IAs provide excellent support for students in the educational setting. We are happy that this increase is now in place and will make adjustments as our finances allow,” Superintendent Rick Hilderley said in an email.
IAs support special needs students, who have individualized education programs. Each child’s IEP determines the responsibilities IAs have.
IAs work with students who have the following disabilities: speech and language impairment, specific learning disability, cognitive impairment, emotional impairment, otherwise health impaired, autism spectrum disorder, physical impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, hearing impairment, deaf-blind, severe multiple impaired and early childhood developmental delay.
Some IA responsibilities include behavior redirections, providing accommodations, reducing distractions, providing visual supports, re-teaching material, supporting breaks for students, filling out accommodation trackers, supporting the use of functional communication systems, preparing students for transitions and changes in schedule, supporting the use of the sensory room, reading tests and quizzes to students, encouraging independence, support in eating and feeding, and assisting with toileting and personal hygiene.
The district’s IAs are not considered Tecumseh Public Schools employees, so they are not tied to any union contract. They are hired through EduStaff, a third-party vendor based in Grand Rapids. The district’s handbook sets the guidelines for their employment, including pay, insurance and leave time.
IA pay is based on nine step levels with longevity tied to 10 years, 15 years and 20 years of experience. With each step, pay increases. Each two-year period gained after 20 years of experience has an additional longevity increment.
Tecumseh schools has 53 IAs who work all over the district. Here is the breakdown of the number of IAs at each step level and their hourly pay:
Tecumseh Public Schools Board of Education President Tony Rebottaro said in an email that IAs are critical for students who have IEPs and this pay increase is an attempt to bring IA pay to a competitive level. All district employees have received pay increases in the past two years.
“For the past several years the board has asked Rick Hilderley and his team to monitor the market and make sure all of our employees are paid at a competitive level. This activity is one of the reasons that all of our employees have recently received an increase in their salaries,” Rebottaro said.