Paraprofessionals reject contractSome 20 Cloquet School District paraprofessionals showed up to make a statement during the open forum portion of Monday night’s regular school board meeting.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Some 20 Cloquet School District paraprofessionals showed up to make a statement during the open forum portion of Monday night’s regular school board meeting.
Their showing was prompted by the fact that paraprofessionals have been working without a contract since July 1, 2009. Judy Nelson and Heidi Maki, both paraprofessionals in the district, came forward and read the following statement to board members:
“The Cloquet Public Schools Paraprofessionals have been working without a contract since July 1, 2009. On Sept. 27, 2010, the AFSCME 65 Local 545 Paraprofessionals Unit voted down the district’s final ‘Proposal for Vote.’ The district negotiating committee wanted to meet again after this vote and a meeting was scheduled for last Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Being that the district negotiation committee did not accept any of the proposals presented by the Paraprofessionals at this meeting and made no changes to their ‘Proposal for Vote,’ the vote on Sept. 27 stands as is. Therefore we, the AFSCME 65 Local 545 Paraprofessionals Unit, do not accept the District’s ‘final proposal.’”
Board members listened to the statement politely. The only response came from Superintendent Ken Scarbrough.
“We do understand that the contracts have been very conservative. They don’t reflect how we value the paraprofessionals’ work,” Scarbrough said.
No action was taken during the meeting regarding the contracts of the district’s paraprofessionals.
In other business, board members unanimously voted to expel the student responsible for a bomb threat to the Cloquet Middle School earlier this year.
The parents and student waived their right to an exclusion hearing, putting the decision in the hands of board members. The student was expelled effective Nov. 9, 2010, and will not be eligible for readmission until the start of the 2011-2012 school year.
School board members will also look into fees that students have to pay to participate in the high school’s musicals and plays. Board member Sandy Crowley was concerned that students being asked to give up their time to be in the pit orchestra in the musical were still being charged to participate.
“Students are asked to give up other activities because nobody wants to participate, and then they are charged $85 for it,” Crowley said.
The board voted to look into changing some of the fees to participate in the musicals depending on what role they play in the production. They will meet in the future to assess the situation and have a more in-depth discussion.
“I feel somewhat exploitive of kids to be asked to participate at the very last minute because [members of the musical] are in need of something,” Crowley said.