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D60 teacher strike comes to an end Sunday - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

D60 teacher strike comes to an end Sunday

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PUEBLO -

The Pueblo Education Association announced teachers have approved the offer from D60 ending the strike in Pueblo. 

"We still feel it was a necessary step, we're very glad we took it but at the same time we're very glad we that we can get our students back in the classrooms," said Suzanne Ethredge, President of the Pueblo Education Association.
"I know teachers were saying all week they did miss their students and I know our students that were marching with us miss their teachers."

Teachers and paraprofessionals are said to return back to school Monday. "Our teachers are going to be very happy to go back tomorrow to do what they love to do best," added Ethredge. 

A school board meeting is scheduled for May 22 to finalize the offer. 

After a full week of striking, teachers and paraprofessionals in Pueblo were able to reach a tentative agreement Saturday afternoon. Paraprofessionals did accept their deal in a vote held Saturday. As union teachers had the night to cast their digital vote in a secure email that was sent out after the bargaining session.

Teachers will now get a 2% Cost of Living Adjustment retroactive to January, they will be able to make up pay for the five days that the strike lasted (2 days excused leave or can be made up at the end of the year, 3 days covered by the district), a 2.5% COLA starting in September and a $50 boost towards health insurance benefits starting in September.

For paraprofessionals, a $500 one-time payment in June, a deal to cover the pay for the five days of the strike (2 days excused leave or can be made up at the end of the year, 3 days covered by the district) and a 3.25% COLA effective in September.

"I'm so relieved, I'm so tired," Rochelle Maes, a math teacher at East High School said.

After eight hours of bargaining back and fourth, District 60 teachers were seeing what appeared to be the light at the end of the tunnel.

"I'm excited at the possibility of a better district, of a better voice, a louder voice of what's happening in our classrooms," Maes said.

The teacher union's bargaining team backed down from their original request of a 2% Cost of Living Adjustment for the full current school year.

Instead, they met the school district in the middle with a retroactive COLA to January of 2018, next to their 2.5% next year.

"We feel that this is a good compromise that allows us to go ahead and begin to move forward and begin to heal the relationship, the good news is we have 2018-19 out of the way," Suzanne Ethredge, President of the Pueblo Education Association said.

And the paraprofessionals getting more than what they asked for with a 3.25% COLA starting in September, among other things.

"It was deserved of, they earned it!" Alice Orona, President of the Pueblo Paraprofessional Education Association said.

Paraprofessionals voted with paper ballots outside overwhelmingly to take the deal and head back to school on Monday.

"They're very very happy, they're very pleased, they're looking forward to going to school on Monday and being with their teachers and their children," Orona said.

Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso answered our questions in a joint press conference with both unions moments after officially signing off on the tentative agreements.

"We value our teachers, we value our paraprofessionals, we value all of our staff in Pueblo City Schools and this is an opportunity to get the ship back on track so to speak and to just move forward from here so we're excited and we're happy," Macaluso said.

She believes there is still a lot of work ahead but this is a step in the right direction.

"I value them, I respect them and going forth in the district, our actions need to mirror our words," she said.

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