PLAINFIELD – Plainfield School District 202 support staff union members pleaded with board members once more for a better outcome on their contract.
At Monday’s board meeting, members of the Plainfield Association of Support Staff spoke about their work and their sacrifices.
The union and District 202 has been in contract negotiations since April. Support staff members expressed dissatisfaction with what they said district officials have proposed for their contract. PASS members have proposed a 3.75 percent raise and they are demanding better benefits.
Support staff have been rallying to support their cause and were rallying outside Walkers Grove Elementary School before the board meeting.
Board President Michelle Smith declined to comment Monday as district officials still are continuing with contract negotiations, which is expected to continue Friday.
Nancy Beutel, Plainfield Central High School campus monitor, said to board members Monday that PASS has made sacrifices in the past such as pay freezes, minimal pay increases and decreases in health care coverage quality.
“We did this in an effort to help District 202 have a balanced budget during the economic [downturn]. It is impossible to keep this pattern going,” Beutel said. “Insurance and pay are what many of us count on and need to help support ourselves or support our families.”
She asked the Board of Education to not “overlook or devalue our contributions.”
Not all support staff could be at the meeting because they’re working a second job, said Kelly Medina, a Bonnie McBeth Early Learning Center special education teacher assistant. She held up a list of 30 signatures of special education teacher assistants who could not make the meeting.
“The need for these second jobs become more of a necessity with the higher cost of insurance and the negligible wage increases we have received,” Medina said.
Praise for support staff came from Lauren Longo, president of District 202 Special Education Parent Teacher Association. She said as a substitute teacher at Bonnie McBeth Early Learning Center, she would not be as successful without teacher assistants.
She said teacher assistants do more than help with classroom instruction and socialization. They also assist with therapy, testing and devices that help students with disabilities.
“In some cases our [teacher assistants] are our children’s only friend. … They are District 202’s unsung heroes,” she said.