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Teachers rally at Capitol, but will lawmakers listen?

DENVER -- Thousands of Colorado educators rallied at the state Capitol on Thursday, protesting teacher pay, education funding and asking for protections for their pensions.

Schools in Douglas and Jefferson counties represented most of the teachers in attendance.

For most of the morning, teachers marched around the Capitol, at one one point completely encompassing the building.

Heidi Guyer, a teacher with the Douglas County School District, wore a skirt of receipts for which she will never be reimbursed.

“I feel embarrassed having to ask my students to bring in Kleenex so I go to Costco and bring in boxes and boxes of Kleenex,” Guyer said.

Vicki Macatie, a teacher of 30 years, said Thursday was a long time coming.

“We spend a lot more than 40 hours a week working and we don’t get paid for it. Our kids need money in the schools. We’ve been underfunded for nine years,” Macatie said.

While there is no question lawmakers heard the teachers’ cheers Thursday, will they actually listen to them?

“I do not believe we have at all underfunded education,” Republican state Sen. Kevin Lundberg said.

Lundberg and state Sen. Owen Hill held a briefing to explain what the state has funded for education in recent years.

According to Senate Republicans, the state has increased education funding from $5 billion in 2012 to more than $7 billion in the 2018-2019 school year.

That equates to more than $8,000 per pupil with the average classroom receiving more than $270,000 in funds.

“$273,000 per classroom per year and the question we got to be asking is where is this money going,” Hill said.

After marching, many teachers headed inside to lobby lawmakers before finishing the day with a rally on the west steps of the Capitol.

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