FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Poudre School District schools, Cherry Creek Schools and Adams 12 Five Star Schools will be closed for students next Friday, April 27, as many of the districts' teachers will join other Colorado teachers in a “Day of Action” to call for higher wages and more lower education money.
The Poudre School District says April 27 will be a teacher and staff workday without students. Teachers and staffers who take time off that day must use paid leave time, the district said. The district had said Tuesday it was considering canceling classes that day if enough teachers took leave days.
“As a district that has been leading conversations in Colorado regarding the need for more K-12 education funding, we understand and respect our teachers’ passion for bringing awareness to this issue,” the district said in a statement. “However, we regret this action is taking place during the school day and impacting students.”
The Poudre School District is the state’s ninth-largest and serves about 30,000 students.
Adams 12 Five Star Schools also announced Friday that students would not have to attend class next Friday.
"The lack of sufficient staff would impact the district’s commitment to provide a productive learning environment and that is why we have decided to not have school for students on Friday, April 27," the district said on its website. "This remains a workday for all Five Star District staff and employees not at work that day must use personal time."
Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Harry Bull said in a statement that he was also canceling class that day.
"Cancelling [sic] school is not a decision I take lightly," Bull said in a letter sent home to district families. "However, we are aware of a large number of Cherry Creek teachers who are planning to join their colleagues from across the state at a rally at the capitol to call for increased education funding. We already have more than 1,400 teachers who are taking leave time that day to participate in the rally."
The districts' teachers will join teachers from Denver Public Schools and St. Vrain Valley Schools in Friday’s rally, and teachers from other districts are expected to take part in the rallies as well.
DPS will have an early release next Friday, while St. Vrain Valley Schools will be closed to students. Both districts have similar rules that require teachers participating in the “Day of Action” to take paid leave days.
Jeffco Public Schools will be closed on Thursday, April 26 for similar rallies. There are approximately 175,000 students who attend Jeffco and Denver public schools.
Englewood Schools were closed Monday because many teachers took off work that day to attend the first rally, in which hundreds of Colorado teachers took part. The Colorado teachers are the latest group across the U.S. who have joined public walkouts to call for higher wages for public school teachers.
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.
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. There is some additional money pledge toward paying down that figure in the budget, but Democrats have argued it’s not enough.
The pension program, called PERA in Colorado, has massive amounts of debt, though some moves made by the General Assembly this week aim to cut most of that debt over the next few decades and restore some of the asks made by teachers. Changes to the measure have to be agreed upon by both chambers.
Colorado’s TABOR law and the Gallagher Amendment also have huge says in how school funding is determined each year, and the educators are hoping for changes to those as well that can help shore-up school funding.