Pueblo students reunite with teachers after a week-long strike

Posted at 4:22 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-14 18:22:35-04

UPDATE: The Colorado Department of Education announced it has granted a waiver of the required number of hours for the four schools affected by the teacher strike. Meaning, all schools will be able to complete the 2017-18 school year without any additional days added to the current calendar. 

Teachers and students in District 60 went back to school on Monday after a six day strike ended this weekend.

Many staff members said it felt like the first day of school all over again.

"Welcome back, Sunset welcome back," teachers chanted outside of Sunset Park Elementary School said.

A sigh of relief…

"Ahhh it’s exciting, I’m so excited to be back and very relieved," Derek Flowers, a Kindergarten teacher at Sunset Park Elementary School said.

Back "open for business," with a new agreement in place.

"We really truly believe that we’ve made a difference for Pueblo City Schools in D-60," Kendra Zerfas, an art teacher at Belmont Elementary School said.

Students were eager to get back to class on Monday, embracing their teachers with hugs as they walked in the door.

"Brayden! What’s up buddy? How are you?" Flowers said.

Flowers spent a historic week on the picket lines alongside nearly 1000 other teachers and paraprofessionals, asking District 60 leaders for change.

On Saturday, after eight hours of negotiating, the district and union agreed on a deal that worked for both sides and teachers returned to schools on Monday, in unity.

"It actually was worth it, it was worth it, because I know that we’re going to have a brighter Pueblo and my students deserve this and the future educators deserve this as well," he said.

But after missing a full week of school, some may be paying for it later.

"Right now, the majority of our schools are still in good shape and should be unaffected, there are four schools that we’re keeping a close eye on and looking at options and what that might look like," Dalton Sprouse, a spokesman for Pueblo City Schools said.

Belmont, Corwin, Goodnight and Heroes may be in danger of not getting enough contact hours.

"We’re in the process of trying to figure out, do we need to add on time to the end of the year? Exactly how does that look? And those will be the discussions that we’ll be having later this week," Sprouse said.

In the meantime, administrators say, it’s catch up time.

"It’s going to be a lot of catch up this week, a lot of testing windows, there’s a lot of things going on at this time of year so to miss a week of it, little stressful, but the show must go on, we’re going to pull it off just fine," John Hull, Principal at Sunset Park Elementary School said.

"I’ve been waiting for this for a week now so I’m excited to be back," Flowers said.

District 60 school board members will still need to formally vote on the negotiated offer that teachers accepted last weekend.

Their next meeting is on May 22nd at 6 p.m.