LETTER: Please support our valued paraeducators, miracles in the classroom

When visiting the library at Jefferson Elementary School, one might notice a large number of baskets in the back of the room.

Each basket is labeled with a paraeducator’s name and numerous books of various grade-level readers for paraeducator-led instruction of several small groups throughout the day.

High school paraeducators are in the science, math and history classes taking notes and adapting the curriculum on the fly.

They are then expected to instruct a group of students, both special and general education students, in the proper procedures for fulfilling the assignment while also monitoring the success or potential behavioral escalation of our students who reach frustration point quickly.

In every school in the district, you will hear the same story over and again.

Our highly qualified paraeducators perform academic miracles with our students, are on the front line when aggressive students attack and even perform catheterizations on our medically fragile students.

The Port Angeles paraeducators began bargaining in March of 2016 with the human resources department for the Port Angeles School District.

Their contract expired Aug. 31.

Currently, our paraeducators make $3.50 less an hour than any other classified employee in the district.

The school board insists that these incredible educators deserve nothing more than a 30-cents-an-hour raise.

The district has millions of dollars in reserves.

Current paraeducator pay is so low that they qualify for free and reduced lunch.

How much more does the school board want to punish these valuable educators?

Please support Port Angeles paraeducators.

Marla Rasmussen,


EDITOR’S NOTE: Rasmussen is a former Port Angeles resident who was a Port Angeles High School paraeducator and is a former member of the contract bargaining team for the Port Angeles Paraeducator Association. Her grandchildren attend schools in Port Angeles.