Teachers move ahead with strike after rejecting D60’s last minute offer

Posted at 9:43 PM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 23:43:50-04

As Pueblo teachers reject an 11th hour offer from the District 60 Superintendent, they are set to strike Monday.

Hundreds met at CSU Pueblo on Thursday evening to finalize the logistics of their strike which will impact every student and family in District 60.

"I know that the district can do better and it’s just a question of when they’ll decide to do it," Michael Maes, a media specialist at East High School said.

A last minute offer came in on Thursday, but teachers put their foot down, saying it wasn’t good enough.

"The district has had a year and a half to negotiate this contract and we are not going to counter this, we are not going to get back into the game we’ve had to play in previous years of basically countering ourselves and bargaining, we’ve been there done that have the t-shirt, we’re not going to do this anymore," Suzanne Ethredge, President of the Pueblo Education Association said.

70 percent of union teachers rejected the deal which offered a 2.25% cost of living raise along with a $30 contribution for insurance, but both wouldn’t kick in until the next school year when the district projects they will have more money in their budget.  

They were also offering a one time payment equal to 1% of their salary to be paid out in June.

"You know, it’s a joke, they know they have the money, the fact finder says they have the money," Dr. Jennifer Doerr, an art teacher at Centennial High School said.

"Too little, too late," Kevin Gehret, a teacher at Pueblo South High School said.

"Disappointed that that’s the best they could do," Maes said.

The union wants the 2% cost of living wage increase for the current school year, on top of the additional $50 health insurance contribution laid out in a third-party fact finders report.

"I would say, try again," Ethredge said.

Come Monday, teachers district-wide are prepared to walk out of their classrooms and picket their own schools, despite threats from the district that they could lose pay and benefits for striking.

"If that’s what we have to do to make sure that this school system is running and functioning and can get teachers and can attract teachers down the road, then that’s what we have to do," Gehret said.

If it’s a district-wide strike, a D60 spokesman told News 5 they will be looking at canceling classes across the board.

"We would be looking to notify families by the end of the day Friday, we want to make sure that we’re giving people as much notice as possible if we do in fact have to cancel schools," Dalton Sprouse, a spokesman for Pueblo City Schools said.

Sprouse added that the union’s decision to reject their offer today is both extremely frustrating and unfortunate.

News 5 is still waiting to hear if they will make another offer before Monday’s scheduled strike.