By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado
Teachers in the Park County Re-2 district based in Fairplay are returning to work Thursday with neither the professional agreement nor the pay raises they sought when they started their strike on Oct. 14.
This marks the end of the longest teacher strike in Colorado in decades and the first in recent years to end without any meaningful concessions from the district. Teachers did not have a strike fund when they walked off the job, and district officials were steadfast in refusing to discuss salaries for the current school year, as union members wanted.
Doug Freeman, a teacher and member of the union negotiating team, said officials with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment had urged teachers to return to the classroom but promised to send a factfinder to do an independent review of the district’s finances.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Labor could not be reached late Wednesday to confirm that.
The five-member Park County school board will have turned over completely by November, between resignations, new appointments, and members not seeking re-election. Freeman said union members hope they can make progress toward their goals once they have the results of an independent audit.
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