Editor, Townsman:

Do you know what instructional assistants do to support the children of Andover? The role has evolved a great deal over the years.

We are educators. Our schools in Andover pride themselves on addressing the needs of the “whole child,” and the instructional assistants are the boots on the ground that make this possible.

A colleague expresses this perfectly: “We are the employees that directly support the social-emotional needs of our most vulnerable students; we protect their privacy and dignity all while supporting them academically.”

Instructional assistants have been showing up in good faith to try and negotiate a fair contract with the Andover School Committee since August 2020, and we’ve been working without a contract since September.

We’ve been grossly underpaid for the value of our work for years. The responsibilities keep growing. We ask for fair wages, and every contract cycle, we are told, “next time.”

Andover is supposed to believe in diversity and equity, yet instructional assistants, a diverse, mostly female group of educators, are among the lowest-paid town employees.

We are concerned about the future of the instructional assistant role and the impact it will have on direct services that students receive.

Many instructional assistant positions have gone unfilled. The turnover rate over the last four years was 43%. This school year, there were 61 new hires and 46 resignations.

A recent survey found that 82% of instructional assistants would not recommend a relative, friend or acquaintance apply for one of these positions in Andover when considering the salary and level of responsibility; many who said they would recommend it added the condition that applicants should have a partner with a higher salary to subsidize the low pay.

This data is alarming. Instructional assistants are not only leaving Andover for other districts, they are leaving for other professions.

What is the School Committee doing to address this? Offering an average $1.59/hour raise spread out over a three-year period.

A fair and reasonable salary is the only way to attract and retain the talent that Andover students deserve.

We will continue to reach out to families throughout the district regarding this dire situation because educator working conditions directly impact student learning conditions.

We thank the parents of Andover for trusting us with the care of their children; they are truly what motivates us.

Judy Bogosian,

Bancroft Elementary School

Holly Currier,

Andover High School

Betsy Spiegel,

High Plain Elementary School

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