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Omaha Public Schools set to contract special education paraprofessionals

OPS and Local 226 would meet monthly to discuss hirings and open positions.
Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 03, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The educator shortage isn't new, but also isn't improving.

To help address it, though, the Omaha Public School board has approved an agreement letting the district contract special education paraprofessionals.

"If you care about education, please apply for the jobs online," Steve Owens, SEIU Local 226 president said.

There are 121 K-12 special education paraprofessional vacancies within ops. Owens, who represents service employees said these positions needed to be filled.

But right now, that's not happening and they've been forced to look for outside help.

"I personally don't like it. I wish we could fill them with our own people. Our own union people. But I understand the reason why. Those kids deserve an education. Their parents expect an education," Owens said.

The agreement allows OPS to contract until next May. OPS said it would not replace any current para employees. Rather, if a Para was hired for the contractor's position, the contractor would have to vacate the position.

"There's many para openings. But, these are the important ones that need to be filled right now. The state of Nebraska and the federal government require special education students to receive a certain amount of classroom hours and certain amount of help in their education," he said.

For now, OPS and local 226 will meet monthly to discuss hiring and open positions, hoping to alleviate the shortages.

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