PARK COUNTY, Colo. — After a week of no school for students in the Park County School District RE-2 due to a teacher strike, negotiations between teachers and the district continued into the weekend.
Teachers say they want higher pay to help combat an issue with teacher retention. Tension is mounting between the two parties over a “professional agreement.”
“They’re saying that we don’t have money and we’re saying that they do,” said Doug Freeman, a teacher and member of the bargaining team. “I’m sad, but most of all, I’m feeling undervalued.”
Friday afternoon, the South Park Education Association, which represents teachers in the district, presented its latest take on the professional agreement to the public and the school district, according to SPEA.
Friday evening, the school district responded with its updated version of the professional agreement.
Freeman says SPEA wants language in the agreement that brings in a third party to help make sense of the district’s finances. He says the school district removed that wording from their version of the professional agreement.
“They basically walked out on us, said, ‘Take it or leave it.’ They wouldn’t answer questions or anything,” Freeman said.
The district would not comment on that claim Saturday, but noted its changes to the agreement include:
- The right for teachers to negotiate salaries
- Compensation to mentor teachers
- Recognizes the SPEA as the teacher’s bargaining unit
“Every time I’m out in front of the school, I tear up and start crying,” Freeman said of the teacher strike. “I don’t want to be out here.”
SPEA reviewed the district’s proposal Saturday afternoon.
The school district’s Board of Education says it plans to comment further after it hears back from the SPEA Saturday evening.