Teachers and paraprofessionals in Pueblo City Schools completed their historic first day of striking on Monday.
Most schools will remain closed on Tuesday because the teachers union and district administrators have not been able to come to an agreement yet.
“Two percent, two percent,” teachers chanted in a rally on the steps of the District 60 administration building. Teachers in Pueblo not backing down.
“Give us our raise,” they said.
“I want a contract and I want what’s fair, and the fact finder awarded us what was fair and what the district can do and they need to do it,” Kendra Zerfas, an art specialist at Belmont Elementary School said.
Picketing in pink, they walked out of their classrooms on Monday, weeks after the District 60 school board turned down their raises outlined in a fact-finder’s report.
“We’re not walking out on your children, we’re walking out for your children, we’re doing this because we love kids, (tears) that’s why I’m here because I do what I love,” Meghan Cira, a 2nd-grade teacher at Carlile Elementary School said.
Students joined their teachers on the picket lines.
“The energy has been really good, it’s been so positive, we’ve just gotten so many honks and waves and people have dropped off food and coffee and applies to us,” Zerfas said.
“I figure the future’s at stake, they’ve been holding these guys back for 20 years, I’ve been marching with them,” Charlie Fetty, a Pueblo supporter said.
The union has turned down two different offers made in “good faith” from the district, the latest including a one-time stipend equal to 2% of their salaries, a cost of living raise of 2.25% that wouldn’t kick in until the next school year in addition to a monthly $50 health insurance contribution. All of which, still on the table.
“The offer would not only settle this dispute for the current school year that we’re in but it would also allow us to plan for the future so this offer would allow us to plan for the upcoming school year,” Dalton Sprouse, a spokesman for Pueblo City Schools said.
Teachers and paraprofessionals say that’s not good enough. “We need to stick together and we need to fight for what’s right,” Cira said. “I really believe that we’re doing the right thing,” Zerfas said. The teachers union plans for more picketing on Tuesday at major schools and high-traffic intersections, ending with a rally at the District 60 administration building.