ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The paraprofessionals in District 205 say they're committed to being in the classroom for the first day of school even if they don't have a new contract.
The paras, as well as the district's bus drivers and food service workers, are fighting to make sure their contracts are fair. More than 100 workers and their supporters rallied outside tonight's school board meeting. Inside, about a dozen were able to speak their minds to the board...demanding a living wage and benefits. One speaker said the paras have only been offered an 80 cent raise in the latest round of negotiations. Another speaker wanted any pay raise to be retroactive. The paras have been working without a contract since last June.
“I realize that a lot of the schools have to get fixed, things have to get updated. They've been neglected, but you also have to realize that you don’t have to neglect the employees who service the children in the district,” says Local 692 President Betty Christiansen.
“We have about 29 tentative agreements and were really just down to salary and benefits and those are tough issues and we are committed to working out a compromise that's great for the employees and great for the district,” says Distort 205 Superintendent Ehren Jarrett.
Bargaining teams for the unions and the district have session scheduled for August 19t; a week after that, August 26th, is the first day of school. Both sides told me they hope to hash out a deal before classes start.
The school board approved the hiring of design firm DLR group.
They'll review the district's master facilities plan. The company will be paid one hundred and 43 thousand dollars to show the district ideal building designs that can maximize student achievement.