MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Monday, Manchester Board of School Committee (BOSC) approved a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to help train badly needed paraprofessional educators.
In the agreement, SNHU will provide eligible candidates currently seeking associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees that can serve as clinical teaching assistants within the Manchester Public Schools.
SNHU will also provide bi-weekly face-to-face support sessions for the assistants and other guidance, with additional assistance toward eventual teacher certification provided for the assistants enrolled in the bachelor’s degree programs. Additionally, SNHU will provide the assistants with healthcare options and housing if needed.
Although the assistants will have to pay approximately $700 of the approximate $14,000 annual cost for the program, the Manchester School District will pay the remainder of that amount, with assistants required to reimburse the district if they drop out of the program.
The assistants are also required to apply for jobs within the Manchester School District and participate in the district’s spring job fair upon obtaining teacher certification.
At-Large BOSC Member Richard Girard voiced concerns with the proposal, believing that it violated the district’s procurement code, referring to SNHU as a staffing agency and wondering if it would be appropriate to put the program out to a bidding process.
Ward 8 BOSC Member Jimmy Lehoux asked why the money could not be given directly to the teaching assistants, with Assistant Superintendent Amy Allen indicating in that case they would be classified as district employees and would be entitled to healthcare and retirement benefits.
Mayor Joyce Craig saw the program as a win/win proposition, describing it as a type of work study that can help the district bridge its shortage of paraprofessional educators.
“It’s a creative approach to get people into our schools,” she said.
The motion to approve the memorandum of understanding over the partnership was approved in a voice vote. The motion did not pass unanimously.
The partnership is scheduled to begin on January 1.