Park County Teachers Set Date For Strike If Negotiations Don’t Pan Out

<p>Hart Van Denburg/CPR News</p>
<p>Storm clouds blowing over the mountains south of Fairplay, Colorado</p>

Park County teachers announced Monday that they are prepared to strike Oct. 14.

More than 90 percent of the South Park Education Association first voted to strike Sept. 4. But they’ve been negotiating with the school district since then to avoid a work stoppage.

Taya Mastrobuono is an elementary school teacher and the SPEA president. She said teachers want to continue working with the district but that they’re losing patience.

“But the District must understand our patience is nearly exhausted,” Mastrobuono said in a release.

The union is supposed to meet with the school district on Wednesday — a public meeting that was agreed upon by both the teachers association and the school district. However, there were supposed to be a string of meetings last month that the school district cancelled. At the time, the district said they were making their best offer.

“SPEA members are skeptical at best that Wednesday’s meeting will be productive, if it happens at all,” Mastrobuono said. “We reached a decision together that it is necessary to announce our strike date before the scheduled Wednesday meeting to put the District on notice that its stalling tactics do not work from this point forward.”

Doug Freeman, a fourth-grade teacher, told CPR last month that it is common for the teachers to leave after one year because of the rising cost of living.

Freeman said the union presented their raise request and the district did not provide a counteroffer by the Aug. 28 union deadline.

In an emailed statement last month, district officials said they already instituted a 6.5 percent increase to the base salary for this school year. District officials didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Park County School District is RE-2 is small serving around 500 students in Fairplay, Colorado.

If the teachers do strike, SPEA said it has arranged for the Boys and Girls Club of South Park to provide childcare.