On Thursday night hundreds of teachers and paraprofessionals came together in school district 60 in Pueblo to vote on whether or not to strike.
A closed meeting was held at Pueblo Union Depot. The vote taken was in response to a decision the school board made last week. The board voted to reject recommendations from a fact-finder that teachers and paraprofessionals should essentially be paid more.
"We’re tired of getting treated without respect," said Julie Cain. She’s been teaching in D60 for more than 20 years.
"It’s been many years since we’ve had a good increase in living…they say they don’t have the money, but the fact-finder says differently."
Suzanne Ethredge, president of Pueblo Education Association said, "The fact-finder, who is an independent third party arbitrator, found in our favor…that teachers should be awarded a 2% raise and some additional money towards health insurance premiums."
However, the school board voted to reject those recommendations.
Cain said, "To not even have a decent cost of living adjustment it’s really hard…it’s time for us to take a stand and to make it good for our families too."
Those with Pueblo City Schools say that is not what this is about. They told News 5 they do not dispute the fact that teachers deserve to be paid more. Their focus is making fiscally-sound decisions for the district.
As for the funding teachers are referencing, D60 Communications Director Dalton Sprouse says that is reserve money which is not supposed to be used for recurring costs like bumps in salary. He says taking money from there is not a viable option, especially with the needs the district has with aging facilities.
Paraprofessional Noelle Fiorenzi has mixed emotions about a possible strike and what it could mean for her son.
"I think it’s really going to affect our community as a whole…a disruption in his learning…he’s finishing out his kindergarten year."
However, she says her vote is still "yes."
"Everybody’s just fed up with everything…just wanting what’s right for them, an increase in pay."
D60 says if a strike does happen substitutes and other support are on standby. Graduation will not be impacted.
Ethredge says if the "yes" votes win immediate action cannot be taken because teachers would be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor for 20 days.
The results of the vote are expected to be released on Friday.