Agawam school nurses want higher pay

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Agawam School nurses are demanding more money, after finding out school nurses get paid significantly more in neighboring communities.

Agawam Public Schools nurse leader Mary Pasteris said seven of her former co-workers left their jobs in Agawam because of low pay, and she doesn’t want to lose any more members of her team.

Agawam school nurses say the offer on the table right now is not good enough.

The nurses’ contract expired last summer, and the nurses have been working without a contract for nearly one year. The Health Department and the nurses have not been able to agree on the proposed 1% raise.

School nurse Sally Peiffer told 22News “Children in this town deserve a good, professional nurse, and we are there for them. But we just feel as if those in charge of financial decisions are not respecting what we do.”

The starting salary in Agawam for a school nurse is $36,000 a year. Other Hampden County districts pay first year school nurses $38,000 to 46,000 a year.

Pasteris told 22News “The bottom line is kids deserve a good nurse. They deserve a good school nurse in their building at all times, someone who can handle any emergency. What’s happened in the last 5 years, we’ve lost 7 nurses because they can’t afford to stay.”

Mayor Richard Cohen told 22News he can’t discuss the contract negotiation details. But he released a statement saying: “I appreciate their concerns and hope that the negotiations will result in an agreement that is beneficial to both the town and the union.”

The next contract  negotiation session takes place in two weeks.

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