Paraeducators are teacher's aides, but educators in the Middleton Cross Plains school district say they're so much more than assistants and deserve to be treated that way.
"What do we want? Fair wages. When do we want it? Now!"
They shouted, held signs reading 'respect', and wore red, because they're seeing red.
"We've been without a contract for 15 months, we've been negotiating and we feel we want a fair and equal contract for what we've been working for," says paraeducator Michele Zindars.
Paraeducators in the Middleton-Cross Plains school district say the contract the school board offered them isn't good enough.
In Monday's school board meeting, mothers of children with special needs gave emotional testimony, and teacher co-workers called paraeducators unsung heroes, and praised their efforts in the classroom.
"And I know you can't pay them what they're worth, but you should pay them what they deserve."
Board president Tim Statz says what they're offering is necessary to balance the budget.
The new contract would require paraeducators who work between 4 and 7 hours a day to pay a pro-rated part of their insurance premium.
"Full time insurance wouldn't kick in until 7.25 hours of work and that puts them with every other group we have, it's the same for every other group," says Statz.
Zindars say having to pay part of their insurance wouldn't make up for a minimal salary increase.
"So it really is a pay cut actually."
Pareducators may be seeing red, but board members say they can't run a school district in the red.
Nothing was decided at Monday's meeting; it was just an opportunity for people to voice their opinions.
Statz says preliminary final offers have been filed with a mediator.
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