Dist. 205 Paraprofessionals Upset with Contract Negotiations

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Hundreds of paraprofessionals in the Rockford Public School District are upset as they negotiate a new contract, and they've been negotiating since August.

Dozens of paraprofessionals, food service workers and bus drivers showed up to tonight's school board meeting to demand what they call a fair contract, and to show their support for each other.

Union members cheered after every speaker during public comment tonight. At least ten people got up and spoke on behalf of paras and many support staff themselves spoke, saying they live in poverty, making anywhere from about $9.50 to $11.50 an hour, with a family to support. Many AFSCME union members also said they haven't gotten a raise in five years, but they've worked in the district for years, some for decades.

"I've negotiated the contract with the district, this will be the fourth time, and each time I felt like they were really hearing us, this time it's just like disrespectful to us," said AFSCME Local 692 President Elizabeth Christensen.

Paraprofessionals also say they're being asked to pay more for health insurance which they can't afford. We'll have more on contract issues and hear from more paraprofessionals, tomorrow on 23 News.

Also tonight, the board approved a civil engineering agreement with the company Fehr Graham. The company will get nearly $314,000 to design paving and concrete projects at ten schools, under the 10-Year Facilities Plan

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