Apologies for the late strike update; it was a long night.
Just one day after hearing widespread condemnation from the public and resounding calls for financial transparency at the Park County RE-3 School District board meeting, Superintendent Joe Torrez and board members Leslie Rhyner and Duane Thompson offered no such willingness for transparency and walked out on collaboration with SPEA. The District refused to take meaningful steps to end the educators’ five-day strike for their students’ futures.
The District met with us and a federal mediator at the bargaining table around 4pm (though the meeting was scheduled for 3pm). After hearing community feedback at the board meeting the night prior, we offered a proposal aimed at getting our students back to school as soon as possible. We offered a Memorandum of Understanding that would bring in a third-party, neutral fact finder to review and form an unbiased opinion of the District’s finances. If agreed to, the MOU would be included within the Professional Agreement and we could have brought the agreement to our members and potentially get back to work Monday.
The District took five hours to review our proposal and finally, at around 9:15pm, Joe Torrez and the board members came back to the table and read a statement from the District. The District rejected the proposal for a neutral third-party fact finder, which would bring transparency to the District’s finances and the Park County community, and offered a counterproposal. SPEA President Taya Mastrobuono said SPEA would review the counterproposal and asked for a time to meet tomorrow. PCSD refused to schedule a meeting to review any input SPEA may have for the new proposal and walked out as SPEA tried to engage them in conversation. This was a “take it or leave it” ultimatum.
SPEA is disappointed that the District, despite the community’s wishes, continues to operate in secrecy and still refuses to engage in meaningful, productive dialogue. SPEA will meet with members today to discuss possible next steps. If you are disappointed with the school board, we urge you to continue to reach out to Board members and our Superintendent and tell them they must bargain with us. They must engage in meaningful, public dialogue. Our students deserve more than this.
Please encourage them to resign, effective TODAY.
Finally, as a reminder, if your family is affected by the strike and you need child care or food, please go to the Strike Update page on the SPEAstrong website for more information.
Thank you for your continued love and support,
The educators of the South Park Education Association