Update on the Paras/Cooks


Emma Bryant, Editor

On September 21, 2021, the CHS school board held a meeting from 6:30 to around 9 pm. It was hosted at the high school in Ms. Appel’s classroom. The first hour of the meeting was closed quarters, so the school board was able to talk on their own to get a feel of how the meeting was going to progress.

A huge amount of people showed up wearing grey. This was in support to all the paraprofessionals and kitchen staff members of the 139 district. There was a few community members who spoke up about the union of the paras and cooks. One of the people who spoke was Mrs. Rockwell. She was a former para herself and she knows everything that they have to do for everyone. She talked a little about her experiences as a para, along with how students, especially ones with IEP’s and such, need them. She also said that they deserve a better pay for everything that they do because they have to manage so much. She wasn’t the only one to feel this way. Alicia Ebers, who is known by the community for running for a position on the school board, is a new school bus driver. She talked about her experience on the school bus this year with the elementary students. They have called her some horrible names and stated, “you do not phase me!” She exclaimed how hard it is to hear that because she is the adult in the situation and wasn’t able to do anything about it. Based off of her three hour experiences with the students, she feels like all the paras and cooks need a raise. Alicia is making $80 a day, which comes out to $26.66/hour. With that being said, she said that she goes home every night not wanting to come back, due to the utter disrespect of the children. So, the way the paras and cooks must feel every single day must be completely awful. If someone who gets paid over twice what the paraprofessionals and kitchen staff makes wants to quit their job, when they only have three hours of contact with the kids is incredibly sad.

Then on September 27th, there was a mediation meeting hosted at the high school at 5pm. Around 4pm a lot of paras and supporters were standing outside of the school holding an informational picket. They were holding signs that said “We deserve a livable wage” and other ones along the same line. There was a big group out there and they were encouraging the people who were driving by to honk. They were also saying things like: “What’s appalling? … The board stalling! What’s outrageous? … minimum wages!”

Many people were confused on what was going on and why so many people were standing out there with all the signs. The paraprofessionals and cooks goals were to get the communities attention over what has been going on. There has been many conflicts with what the paras union wants versus what they are receiving. It was getting so bad that there was talk over them striking. This would cause many issues at the schools, because who would sit with the IEP students? Who would make the other students lunches? How would the school function in general?

After their meeting on Monday night, things have seemed to got better. During their meeting there were compromises made, and hopefully there isn’t a strike. There are more people that have to give the okay over the compromises, but it seems hopeful.