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Bridgeport Paras Save School Services

Math aide and Local 1522 member Mary Williams is interviewed by Cablevision News 12.

With members of Local 1522 watching while clad in their green AFSCME shirts, the Bridgeport Board of Education voted to accept $9 million in new stimulus money and reinstate 27 library and math aides whose positions had been slated for elimination.

The vote to restore school aide jobs on the eve of a new academic year was welcome news for union members who spent an agonizing summer worrying about their jobs and the students they mentor.

"I was worried about the services. I didn't want the kids to think I abandoned them," said Mary Williams, a veteran math aide at Beardsley School. "My students depend on me. I want to be there for them and their families."

Speaking before the Board of Education, Local 1522 President Anna Montalvo noted the stimulus funding was due in no small measure to the national grass roots efforts of AFSCME members who lobbied their members of Congress to pass a jobs bill that President Obama signed into law Aug. 10.

"The students are the winners here. The worst thing we can do during a recession is to slash more jobs and more services when people need them the most," Montalvo said after the meeting. "I'm proud of our union for leading the fight to save thousands of jobs that were on the chopping block nationwide and here in Bridgeport."

Under this legislation, Connecticut will receive approximately $300 million in vital federal aid to state and local governments and school districts to help with budget shortfalls and save jobs.

Williams, for one, is relieved.

Local 1522 members watch the Board of Ed proceedings.

"My kids are going to be looking for me," she said. "I'm connected to them. They know I love them."

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