DENVER – More than half a million Colorado students will be out of school Thursday or Friday this week, as the state’s 10 largest school districts have canceled classes because many of their teachers will take part in a rally at the state Capitol for better pensions, pay and school funding.
Most of Douglas County and Jefferson County schools will be closed Thursday, and at least 12 other school districts across Colorado will be closed Friday.
There are approximately 30,000 teachers who work in those 10 districts, though it’s unclear exactly how many of those teachers plan to take paid leave days to participate in the rallies.
Parents looking for last-minute childcare options can click here, though options are waning.
The Colorado Education Association estimates that Colorado teachers spend $656 of their own money for school supplies for students each year, and the average teacher salary here ranks 46th among U.S. states and Washington, D.C., according to the National Education Association.
Department of Education data says the average teacher salary in Colorado for the 2017-18 school year was $52,728.
The state currently is underfunding schools by more than $800 million each year, and the teacher shortage and education budget shortage are hitting rural schools hardest.
The pension program, called PERA in Colorado, has massive amounts of debt, though the General Assembly has been working to try and fix that problem this session. Friday’s rally is also aimed at pension reform.
Two Republican state lawmakers have caused uproar across the state after introducing a bill that would allow teachers to be fined or jailed for up to six months, and be fired by their school, for participating in a strike.
Additionally, a GoFundMe page has been set up to try and raise $50,000 to help pay DPS teachers who say they will take unpaid days. The company sent out a news release saying the fundraiser was verified.
For a list of the districts that will be closed Thursday and Friday and their reasons for canceling (linked), scroll down.
The following Colorado school districts will not have classes on Thursday:
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
After-school activities will go on as planned. There will be grab-n-go meals offered at 14 schools, however childcare will not be available. Students attending Stargate, Prospect Ridge and Westgate will receive separate communication from their building leaders as to whether students will have school that day.
Poudre School District
The district will have a teacher workday without students. Teachers and staffers who take time off that day must use paid leave time, the district said.
School District 27J
As of Friday, about 349 staff members had put in a leave request to participate in the rally. The district says it simply doesn’t have enough substitute teachers to fill all of those vacancies. The district will also not be providing childcare for students.
St. Vrain Valley Schools
Charter schools amd the APEX Homeschool Enrichment program will decide on their own whether to hold class or not. The district will be hosting Community Schools non-school day programming at four locations: Black Rock, Eagle Crest, Legacy and Sanborn. After-school activities will continue as scheduled.
Summit School District
The district says more than 130 teachers are planning to take Friday off and there are not enough substitutes.
Thompson School District
More than 425 employees asked for the day off to participate in the rally. Teachers will use their personal leave time on that day. Those not participating can choose to use the day as a staff work day. After-school activities will go on as planned.
Weld County RE-5J School District
The district says its three elementary schools, Milliken Middle School, Knowledge Quest Academy Charter School and Roosevelt High School will all be closed due to teacher shortages.
Several school districts have pre-scheduled in-service days or other non-student contact days. If your school district does not have school Thursday or Friday but does not appear on this list, that could be the reason.