Vail Valley teachers to rally for more education funding at Colorado Capitol
March on the Capitol to draw attention to salaries, education funding
Several local teachers plan to join colleagues from around the state as they rally this month at the state Capitol.
The March on the Capitol is scheduled for March 19 where educators will demand that Colorado lawmakers come up with more education money.
The local teachers are working with Eagle County Schools for “strategic advocacy” to make sure the district can come up with enough substitute teachers on that day.
So far, their absence from Eagle County classrooms is not expected to cause the problems that Colorado’s second-largest school district is facing. The 84,000-student Jefferson County School District announced that so many teachers will be at the March 19 rally, instead of in classrooms, that the district is canceling school that day.
“Please know we exhausted all resources before deciding to cancel school for students,” Jeffco school officials said in a letter to families.
Two years ago several districts canceled classes for similar rallies. In 2018 Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Jason Glass cited a “labor shortage.”
The Colorado Education Association, which is the state teachers union, is coordinating the March 19 rally.
It’s money that matters
Like many rallies around state legislatures, the March on the Capitol is about money and spending more of it on public education.
Teachers want a pay raise and have convinced three Colorado lawmakers to introduce the Educator Pay Raise Fund, SB 20-089. The bill would increase minimum teacher salaries and the minimum hourly wages for everyone else.
To be part of the $15 million program, districts would have to pay starting teachers $40,000 and hourly workers at least $15 per hour. The pay rates would be adjusted by the cost of living. Districts not at those salary levels could request grants from the proposed fund.
The $15 million annual Educator Pay Raise Fund would come from State Land Board revenue, raised by leasing some publicly owned land for commercial purposes — things like parking lots in downtown Denver. In 2018 the state land board generated $149.5 million. Lawmakers want to divert 10% of that to the Educator Pay Raise Fund.
Eagle County’s teachers union is already asking for a $50,000 starting salary for new teachers, something school district officials say they cannot do.
The CEA also insists that the state has shorted Colorado’s 178 school districts a total of $572 million since the economy tanked in 2008. They call it the Budget Stabilization Factor. They’re demanding a “meaningful” payment this year, and the entire $572 million made current by 2022.
In addition, the CEA wants support for a statewide ballot initiative to increase education funding. Colorado voters crushed a proposal last November.