FAIRPLAY, Colo. – Park County educators are back to work tomorrow after ten days of standing together to demand a better future for their students. Yesterday, the South Park Education Association (through the Colorado Education Association) filed a request for director inquiry with the Colorado Department of Labor to have an independent, third-party factfinder examine PCSD finances.
Should the DoL accept the request, the inquiry may fulfill the long-held desire of SPEA and the community to gain financial transparency from the District and confirm whether or not millions of dollars are held in reserves that PCSD could use to increase educator pay and promote staff stability. After mediating strong reentry conditions for the educators who were forced to strike, SPEA will follow the DoL’s recommendation for educators to return to school tomorrow as the fact-finding process begins.
“I am proud to go back to my classroom tomorrow after spending ten days fighting for my students’ futures. I know all SPEA members share my enthusiasm to see our kids again and continue the critical work we do to help all students learn, grow and reach their full potential,” said SPEA President Taya Mastrobuono, an elementary school teacher.
“Because our Board and District refused to work with us to give the community the financial transparency it deserves, we took matters into our own hands. This was the best option since our three outgoing school board members felt no pressure to work with us to resolve this situation. With their lawyer’s salary, we could hire another full-time educator for our kids,” Mastrobuono added. “We will have a new school board starting Nov. 21 and we are optimistic for a fresh, productive start with them.”
SPEA is ending the strike and returning to work without a professional agreement for now, preparing to negotiate with the new school board for a fair, competitive compensation package informed by state findings. SPEA’s actions are driven by the need to retain and attract quality educators, because a stable staff has positive impacts on student learning.
“The fight for our students’ futures continues and I’m confident we’ll return to the bargaining table in the not-too-distant future to chart a course for success for all students and better days for our community,” said Mastrobuono.
SPEA members are grateful for tremendous community goodwill throughout the strike and appreciate the efforts of students, parents, businesses, union members from across the state, and all other supporters who stand by their educators. SPEA thanks the Boys and Girls Club of South Park, the Fairplay Fire Station, and American Legion Post 172 for invaluable logistical support.