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Park County teacher strike continues as school board president says she will resign

park county teacher strike.jpg
Posted at 3:36 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-18 15:24:53-04

Updated 1 p.m. Friday

FAIRPLAY, Colo. – The South Park Education Association called for school board president Kim Bundgaard to resign on Thursday night, as the district's teacher strike continued amid a disagreement over teacher pay.

Bundgaard did announce she would resign at the next school board meeting, on Nov. 21, and the union and the school board were planning to meet again Friday to find a resolution, hopefully before Monday.

A news release from Bundgaard and the Park County Schools District RE-2 board, also on Thursday, said the two sides have had "multiple one-on-one meetings," including one with a federal mediator on Wednesday. The discussion late Wednesday was "centering on final details" of a new agreement, which could be approved by the board Thursday night, if ratified by the union, according to the board's news release

But union president Taya Mastrobuono, an elementary school teacher, said in a statement Thursday that teachers "have completely lost confidence in President Bundgaard's ability and interest to end our educator retention crisis."

“She has been absent during our strike this week and Superintendent Joe Torrez is paralyzed to negotiate critical compensation issues directly with us without her approval," Mastrobuono said.

Teachers in the Park County Schools District have been on strike since Monday amid a disagreement regarding teacher pay that has been ongoing since July. The South Park Education Association is demanding an increase in pay to address what they say is a “teacher retention crisis” in the district.

At the board meeting Thursday night, teachers said that instead of discussing salary, the district brought up issues teachers believed had already been resolved.

There are 41 teachers in the district, 30 of which are represented by the union. There are about 600 students enrolled in the district.

Bundgaard has said a New Professional Agreement was structured to provide several mechanisms for negotiating salaries and working conditions "in the future." Union leaders said Monday on they were hoping to get a new contract that will help retain employees, increase their collective voice in bargaining and win recognition and support from the district and community.

She also said that "across-the-board raises" have been provided to all employees.