Park County teachers to strike Monday, Summit County teachers union expresses solidarity
The South Park Education Association, the union representing teachers working in the Park County School District, have announced that they will strike beginning Monday, Oct. 14, after talks with the district broke down Thursday night. The strike was announced two weeks ago amid failed negotiations for a new professional agreement between the sides.
Barring any last-minute breakthroughs in negotiations, which reached a sticking point on current year pay, the teachers of the South Park Education Association will strike beginning Monday.
From its end, the Park County School District Board of Directors said in its latest media release that it felt its request for a new professional agreement to be in place before discussions on current year pay can begin was a reasonable one.
“Although the Association has been aware for months that the District would not be negotiating salaries prior to the reinstatement of an agreement, the Association unilaterally inserted this topic into the agreed-upon dialogue for this week’s meetings and chose to walk away from the productive conversations with the District last night,” the district said in the press release. “The Board is disheartened that the Association is choosing a strike rather than move forward with a positive working relationship with the District that includes favorable avenues for SPEA to handle the salary negotiations that it desires.”
Representatives from the South Park Education Association countered by insisting the district has a surplus they can use to pay teachers, and do not feel the district’s board have been good faith partners in negotiations.
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“The District team shut down our voice when we wanted to talk about our concerns on how we pay our rent and buy our groceries and gas, just as they have shut down that talk so many times before,” said Taya Mastrobuono, a Park County teacher and SPEA president. “It’s very frustrating because we want to keep good staff for our wonderful kids, but the District doesn’t have a plan for getting that done and left the table tonight with no clear commitment to a settlement and avoiding a strike.”
The Summit County Education Association, which represents teachers in the Summit County School District, released a statement expressing solidarity with their Park County peers.
“All students deserve to have quality educators in front of them who can live in the same communities that their students live in,” said Summit County Education Association Co-President Tara Dye. “Students deserve continuity and when you don’t pay your educators a professional wage, they leave to other districts that do.”
Association Co-President Liz Waddick said that Summit’s teachers will support Park County teachers in a variety of ways, including accepting donations for a food bank. Waddick also said that if the strike does proceed, the Summit County Education Association will send representatives to join them on the picket line.
“This issue isn’t just a Park County issue; this is an educator respect issue that has been a problem statewide,” Waddick said.
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