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Shutdown slows contract for teacher aides

Talks scheduled to resume Nov. 12

DIXON – Contract talks are expected to resume in November between the school district and its teacher aides and assistants.

Both sides reached a tentative agreement in August, but it was not accepted by the Dixon Educational Support Personnel Association, the union that represents teacher aides and assistants, known as paraprofessionals.

They have been working without a contract since June 2012.

Members agreed not to negotiate while Dixon Education Association talks dragged into March and spurred a strike that canceled 9 days of classes.

Talks with a federal mediator were expected to resume last month, but the federal government shutdown put that position on furlough.

The union was not willing to negotiate without the mediator, said Mindy Donoho, DESPA president. Since the shutdown has passed, a mediator will be available and talks will resume Nov. 12.

The board of education is uncertain of the status of negotiations at this point, Dixon Superintendent Michael Juenger said.

The union has 48 full- and 16 part-time paraprofessionals, Donoho said.

Under the former contract, paraprofessionals are paid hourly, starting at $8.50 an hour. They are given a raise of 20 cents an hour each year, and 25 cents more an hour if they gain 75-plus hours of further education or training.

Paraprofessionals pay $25 a month for individual health insurance coverage and $75 a month for family coverage, with a $500 deductible.

In their recent 4-year contract, Dixon teachers received a 2 percent pay increase for this school year and a 2 percent pay increase each of the next 2 years, plus step increases, which average to about 2 percent for some teachers, based on experience and education.

In the final year of the contract, teachers receive a 1 percent increase, plus step increases.

Also, the school board agreed to give administrators and nonunion support staff – hourly employees such as custodians, clerical staff and nurses – a 2 percent raise, retroactive to the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.

Juenger has said the district is seeking a contract in-line with the other unions.

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