Elgin – District U-46 Educational Assistants (DUEA), an Illinois Education Association local comprised of 600 para-educators, tonight is asking the school board to approve additional funds requested by the district for all DUEA members. Hundreds of DUEA members plan to attend the U-46 board meeting and to hold an informational picket beforehand.
DUEA has been in contract negotiations with District U-46 for more than a year now, and is requesting a small salary increase of about $0.75 an hour. Tonight, the district plans to ask the U-46 school board to approve additional funds so it can meet the DUEA request.
“We are an integral part of providing educational support for the students of U-46,” said DUEA President Sara Moeller. “The school district’s motto, ‘academic success for all,’ cannot be fulfilled without the diligent work of DUEA members. The value of the work of a DUEA member must not be understated. Without our work, the learning environment is not whole.”
DUEA is composed of 600 para-educators, home school liaisons, sign language interpreters and librarians. Members serve nearly 40,000 students. Nearly all members are women. The median salary for a DUEA members is $18,406 – below the poverty line for a family of four. Many members work multiple jobs and visit food banks to ensure food is on the table for their families.
There are currently 64 open DUEA positions. This means that at least 64 students are not getting the support they need for academic success.
“It’s no wonder the District is having trouble attracting and retaining quality staff members to work with the students in this district,” Moeller said. “Our members are worthy of a livable wage. The financial struggles DUEA members face is contributing to the high number of open positions. Our students and our staff deserve better.”
DUEA members, parents and community members will hold an informational picket at 5:45 p.m. prior to tonight’s School District U-46 Board of Education Meeting. The picket will take place at the Educational Service Center (355 E. Chicago Street) in Elgin. Tonight’s board meeting begins at 7 p.m. inside the Educational Service Center.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.