Pueblo School District prepares to strike

PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV) - District 60 is now on the path to a strike and no one is happy.

This comes after the Board of Education shut down a recommendation from an outside agency suggesting teachers get a 2 percent raise and some beefed-up insurance benefits.

"We value our employees and the quality education they provide each and every day," Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso said in a statement Friday. "(We) want you all to know that this decision was reached solely based on our dire financial situation as a school district."

Macaluso goes on to say the district will need to address $173 million in critical projects in the next year and is already struggling to pay increasing budget costs.

President of Pueblo Education Association Suzanne Ethredge said that's not going to cut it.

“Their budget has been all about choices the last few years and although they are telling us it seems that they are making decisions in other areas that increase expenditures and decrease expenditures in things like instruction," Ethredge said. "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.”

Ethredge pointed to District 60's teacher retention rate, which she said is one of the worst in the state.

"We cannot afford to keep losing teachers like we are losing them right now, we just can’t. Our teachers are coming here, they are receiving a lot of training, they are receiving a lot of extra training and so right now we are training them to move on and that’s just not ok anymore.”

She said 775 teachers in the district are a part of the group, meaning three-fourths of the teachers would strike if this situation comes to that.

Ethredge has filed the papers for the strike with the Division of Labor. If they choose to intervene, they have 20 days to do so. Ethredge said the division would either continue negotiations or they would stay out of it, and the strike would likely happen in mid-May.

She said she hopes it doesn't get that drastic.