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D60 teachers set to strike for "as long as it takes" - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

D60 teachers set to strike for "as long as it takes"

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PUEBLO -

In the days leading up to the District 60 teacher strike, the Pueblo Education Association estimated it would last between three and five days.

Now, just one day into the strike, it's unclear whether that estimation will hold true. The two sides did not meet for negotiations Monday, and it is unknown when they will next.

The district's teachers and paraprofessionals traded their classrooms for the streets Monday, making their voices heard on Day 1 on of a strike, they said, was years in the making. They tell News 5 they will strike for as long as they need to.

"We think this first day went amazingly well," said Suzanne Ethredge, president of the Pueblo Education Association. "We are actually quite excited with how it went today. We had a lot of people turn out."

Ethredge estimated around 1,000 people joined in on the plea for higher pay, better health insurance and an improved role for educations within the district.

For teachers like Kendra Zerfas, it's history she's proud to be a part of, to an extent.

"In one respect, it's really good energy, but also it sucks. I hate to be out here. I hate to be out here. I would so much rather be in my classroom with my kids," Zerfas said.

Some teachers will do just that on Tuesday.

"Right now, we're currently monitoring each school and looking at, you know, how many teachers do they have? When can we potentially, hopefully, open schools back on a case-by-case basis," said Dalton Sprouse, spokesman for the district.

A handful of preschool programs, except for Bessemer and Franklin, will reopen Tuesday. Additionally, the Paragon Learning Center, which serves high school students through personalized learning programs, will open again.

News 5 asked the union if this signals the strike is losing steam. They said it really doesn't change things at all.

"There are some teachers who fall under our contract and some known as site coordinators that do not fall under our contract," Ethredge said. "So, my guess is the district is able to reopen the preschool sites with site coordinators and not the teachers who fall under our contract."

In fact, she said the union — which represents about 75 percent of the district's teachers — is only growing amid the labor dispute.

The contract battle continues, with the district's second offer still on the table, but no end to the strike is in sight.

"We truly hope that all of our teachers fully understand what that offer was, and we hope that they speak to their leadership and try to reach some sort of resolution," Sprouse said.

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