ROCKLAND, Maine — Regional School Unit 13 will begin phasing out the use of educational technicians with the least formal education.
Superintendent Lewis Collins said Thursday that districtwide, he wants to have all educational technicians either at levels two or three of certification in five years and to cease using the level one educational technicians.
In addition, starting in the next school year, the district will not be using ed tech ones in the programs that serve students with autism or serious emotional disturbances.
The change is needed to provide more flexibility in staffing, he said.
State regulations do not allow ed tech ones to be in the classroom alone with students for instruction, the superintendent said. They can serve with a teacher in a classroom or can do recess and bus duties.
He said educational technician ones only require a high school education. Ed tech twos require 60 credits of approved college-level study and the top level requires 90 credits of approved study.
Collins said most districts in the state have moved away from employing ed tech ones because of the limitations in state regulations.
RSU 13 employs 78 educational technicians. Thirty-six are at the first level, 26 are at the second level and 16 are at the top level.
The elimination of the use of ed tech ones for the autism and emotional disturbance programs in RSU 13 will eliminate 14 of those current employees who will be replaced with 14 new ed tech threes, Collins said.
The labor contract for educational technicians calls for the district to cover the costs of two college courses per year for the employees to help them with their continuing education.
The starting pay for an ed tech one in RSU 13 is $10.66 per hour while ed tech twos with no experience begin at $11.11 per hour. The starting pay for ed tech threes is $11.82. At the top of the scale, ed tech ones can earn $14.16 per hour, ed tech twos $15.83 and ed tech threes $16.03.
The cost of eliminating ed tech ones from the autism and emotional disturbance programs for next year and replacing them with the highest level technicians is estimated at $25,000, Collins said.
Ten of the ed tech ones have more than 20 years of experience with the most senior member having 34 years. Two of the more senior members said they would prefer not to comment on the change being implemented.
The head of the employee bargaining unit was not immediately available for comment.
The neighboring Five-Town Community School District — which oversees the high school for Camden, Rockport, Hope, Appleton and Lincolnville — and School Administrative District 28 (which serves the remaining grades in Camden and Rockport) stopped using ed tech ones about five years ago, noted SAD 28 Board Chairwoman Tori Manzi. This was about the time, the state changed the rules that limit what ed tech ones can do, she said.
The Five-Town CSD employs 12 educational technicians at the second and third levels, and SAD 28 employs 32.
Regional School Unit 40 — which consists of Waldoboro, Warren, Union, Friendship and Cushing — employs 16 ed tech ones out of the overall 69 employed in the district. Seven of those ed tech ones, however, work in the libraries and not classrooms.