Paraprofessionals Protest RPS Board Meeting

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Paraprofessionals in District 205 are not backing down when it comes to contract negotiations. Dozens of them showed up to tonight's school board meeting to express their frustrations.

Paras and nutrition service workers protested before tonight's meeting, demanding what they call a fair contract. They also made their voices heard inside the meeting.

Paraprofessionals say they're frustrated with district contract proposals like the wellness program for health insurance. They say if they accept that plan employees will be working solely to pay for insurance, and they won't have any extra money because they make so little. Paras also say the district isn't taking time to negotiate.

"(The district) presented us a package and when we came back to talk to them about what we wanted, they gave us eight minutes and said no, they didn't really want to talk to us," said Betty Christensen, president of AFSCME Local 692.

The district has since agreed to meet for longer sessions once summer school is over. The district also says it has given paras time, for example they say they submitted an economic proposal last spring and they just received a response last month from unions. Contracts with paras and nutrition workers will end on July 16th, but the district says benefits will not end as long as negotiations continue.

Also tonight, the board approved giving Alignment Rockford $70,000. The organization has helped with several initiatives, including high school career academies. Board members Lisa Jackson and Laura Powers voted no. Powers says a decent portion of the group's funding goes towards salaries and benefits, which is why she doesn't support the measure.

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