New Hampshire’s Department of Education is attempting to tackle a statewide shortage of paraprofessionals with a new training program, the department announced this week.
In partnership with 321 Insight, a company that develops training courses, the state will be hosting a series of free, three-hour workshops next week to train new paraprofessionals and retrain existing ones.
The Executive Council approved a $193,100 contract with the company using the state’s portion of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The courses will include “hands-on best practices” for how paraprofessionals can deal with behavioral issues and build relationships with teachers and will include “short videos with job-specific tools and enriching materials,” according to the department.
Trainings will be on Aug. 16 in Derry, Aug. 17 in Concord, and Aug. 18 in Whitefield. Those interested in attending can register on the state’s online portal.
The contract will also provide for further trainings throughout the year, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, Kim Houghton, said Friday.
New Hampshire schools have struggled to retain paraprofessionals, who are key to providing support to students with disabilities, students with behavioral issues, and students who need tutoring. Schools have turned to job fairs to promote openings, and some have lined up signing bonuses for new hires.
“Although they are incredibly valued, paraprofessionals are in short supply and need additional support,” Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said in a statement. “This new program aims to increase the number of paraeducators in New Hampshire, while also retaining current paras and providing strategies to enhance their success.”
Despite the lack of paraprofessionals, New Hampshire schools have seen modest improvements filling other shortages. The state’s critical shortage list, which measures the need for 54 different job titles in schools, identified 26 job titles out of 54 in April that were deemed in “critical shortage,” down from 50 out of 54 in 2019.
Pictured: The Department of Education is partnering with 321 Insight for the training program. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)
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