AUGUSTA – House Majority Leader Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, introduced LD 1780, An Act To Allow Unorganized Territory School Staff to Receive Annualized Pay, before the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs on Tuesday.
The bill would allow unorganized territory school staff to have the option to receive annualized pay. This option would give teachers and critical support staff, including education technicians, bus drivers and janitors, the opportunity to receive a consistent year-round income. Currently, schools in unorganized territories are at a disadvantage for hiring quality staff, as there are many surrounding school districts who already provide this option.
The legislation would also ensure that school staff do not have to decide between forgoing insurance coverage during the summer months or paying costly Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) premiums to maintain insurance for themselves and their families.
“As a former teacher, I know how dedicated these individuals are to supporting and caring for our children,” said Dunphy. “We cannot ignore that they also have children and families of their own that need to be supported. With this bill, we have the opportunity to better support our teachers who deserve to have equal access to a consistent income as much as the teacher in the neighboring district.”
“If we truly believe that every child in Maine deserves a first-class education, then we will ensure that all school staff can access the same benefits, including school staff in Maine’s unorganized territories,” said Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, a cosponsor. “LD 1780 is about equity. Every day the small but mighty staff at Connor Consolidated School in Connor Township, an unorganized territory in northern Aroostook County, go above and beyond to meet the needs of their students. These hardworking teachers, education technicians and administrators deserve the same wage payment options as their colleagues in other parts of the state.”
The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold a work session on LD 1780 in the coming weeks.
Dunphy is serving her fourth term in the Maine House and serves as the House Majority Leader. She represents the City of Old Town and the Indian Island Voting District.