District 60 strike: School board approves offer, makes raise official

PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - UPDATE (5/16, 9:40 a.m.): The District 60 school board has approved and confirmed the offer made to the teacher's union over the weekend, which ended the strike.

Teachers marching outside the District 60 headquarters on May 7, 2018.

It makes official a 3.25 percent raise offered to teachers effective at the start of next school year.

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UPDATE (5/15, 11:35 a.m.): A spokesperson with Pueblo School District 60 confirmed Tuesday that the Colorado Department of Education granted a waiver of the required number of instructional hours.

That means the four schools affected by the strike will still complete the 2017-2018 school year without having any additional days added to the calendar.

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UPDATE (5/13, 5:40 p.m.): The teachers union has approved the offer made by District 60. Teachers and students will return to the classroom on Monday.

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UPDATE (5/12, 5:15 p.m.): The numbers are in for the paraprofessionals who have decided to accept the offer given by the district.

The vote is as follows: 57 yes, 2 no, 2 could not be counted.

Beginning at the next school year in fall of 2018, they will see a 3.25 pay raise. Before accepting, they gave a counteroffer that was also accepted by the district stating that no district officials can harass paraprofessionals about their involvement in the strike.

Paraprofessionals will also receive a one-time $500 bonus in June.
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PREVIOUS (5/12, 3 p.m.): The Pueblo Education Association's counter offer has been authorized to go to a vote.

If accepted, teachers will receive a 2 percent pay raise retroactive to January 1st, with a 2.5 percent pay raise beginning next school year.

They will also receive an extra $50 per month per employee for health insurance.

An email was sent to union members Saturday afternoon, but an unofficial poll of those in attendance at the meeting showed more votes toward accepting the deal.

At this time, union leaders told our 11 News crew, even if a decision is reached Saturday night, they may not announce the decision until Sunday morning.

If a deal is reached, teachers will return to school Monday morning.

The teachers are still deciding if they will accept the offer. Check this page for updates.

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PREVIOUS (5/12, 9:30 a.m.): Details of the third offer were released during Saturday's public bargaining meeting at Pueblo School District 60's headquarters.

Teachers were offered a 2 percent pay raise for six months starting March 2018 through August 2018, with a 2.5 percent pay raise beginning next school year.

The Pueblo Education Association gave a counteroffer stating they want to see that 2 percent pay raise for the entire 2017-2018 school year, and not just for those six months.

The paraprofessionals decided to accept the offer given by the district. Beginning at the next school year in fall of 2018, they will see a 3.25 pay raise. Before accepting, they gave a counteroffer that was also accepted by the district stating that no district officials can harass paraprofessionals about their involvement in the strike. Paraprofessionals will also receive a one-time $500 bonus in June.

The teachers are still deciding if they will accept the offer. Check this page for updates.

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PREVIOUS (5/11, noon): The Pueblo Education Association said early Friday afternoon they are going back to the bargaining table Saturday at 8 a.m. with Pueblo School District 60 at the district headquarters. It will be a public meeting.

The Pueblo Education Association believes the latest offer the district made Thursday night could be a viable one and if both sides agree, educators could be back to work by Monday.

Details of the latest offer will not be released until Saturday morning.

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PREVIOUS (5/10, 6 p.m.): As of Thursday evening, the district has made a third offer. No one can say the details of the offer at this time, but teachers are thinking it over.

The district and the teacher's union will have a public bargaining meeting on Saturday morning to potentially come up with an agreement.

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PREVIOUS (5/10, 6 a.m.): A District 60 teacher strike is now in its fourth day.

Both sides say they hope to reach a resolution, but in the meantime are refusing to budge from their respective positions.

The strike forced the district to close all of its schools Monday. A handful of schools have reopened since then, but much of the district has remained closed.

As of Thursday, it appears the strike will continue at least through the end of the week.

How did we get here?

In April, members of teachers' union Pueblo Education Association voted 471-24 to strike.

The move to strike was triggered by the District 60 Board of Education's refusal to implement a 2 percent raise and beefed-up health insurance issues, both of which were recommendations by an outside agency. The district said its "dire" financial situation was the sole reason for denying teachers the raise or better benefits.

The president of the union countered that the district's financial woes seemed selective.

"Anything that has a direct impact on the classroom is taking the biggest funding hit right now while the school board just voted to pay an architect almost $350,000 to do a building study," Suzanne Ethredge said.

The Colorado Department of Labor had the option to intervene in the dispute, which could have delayed the strike for six months. Last week, it opted not to, opening the path to a teachers' strike.

The district made two last-minute offers to the teachers, which were both rejected. The second offer included:

- A one-time $1,000 stipend, which was twice the amount of the first offer.

- A 2.25 percent cost-of-living increase that will start with the next school year, which is the same as the first offer.

- An extra $50 per month per employee for health insurance. That's $20 more than the first offer.

Which schools are open?

As of Thursday, the following schools have reopened to some or all students:

-Centennial, Central, East and South are open to APEX students only. (APEX courses are offered online at each high school)

-Haaff Elementary is open to all students. This includes their preschool and K-5 programs.

-All District 60 preschool programs have reopened, with the exception of Bessemer and Franklin.

-Paragon High School

All other schools will give daily communications to families regarding the possibility of additional school openings moving forward. The district says some teachers have opted to go back to work, so if there are enough teachers, certain schools will reopen.

The school district says they have days built into the calendar, so as of Thursday the time students have missed will not have to be made up.

What else do parents need to know?

During the closure, there will free lunches available to kids from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the following locations:

Minnequa Elementary School
Morton Elementary School
Belmont Elementary School
Eva R Baca Elementary School
Beulah Heights Elementary.
Pueblo City-County Library District - Patrick A. Lucero Branch
Pueblo City-County Library District Central Library

The Pueblo Chieftain reports that the unions have set up a food distribution site in the parking lot of a former Safeway on 1322 E. 8th St. The site is open from noon to 3 p.m.

The Pueblo YMCA says it is open to kids 8 and older during the school day, but only for four hours at a time.

The Chieftain reports a reduced-cost daycare site has been set up at First Presbyterian Church at 220 W. 10th St. from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Lunch and activities are available to the first 100 students who show up at Mineral Palace Park.

District 60 students who are members of the Boys and Girls Club of Pueblo County can go to the Sprague Clubhouse and Risley International Academy of Innovation sites from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

The Pueblo Zoo is offering half-price admission Monday-Friday.