SWCO Teachers Ask for State Support

03/04/2020
NEWS BRIEFS
Southwest Colorado confirmed COVID-19 cases by county: La Plata (207 resident, 18 non-resident), Archuleta (38 resident, 33 non-resident), Montezuma (109), Dolores (1), San Juan (2). Deaths due to Covid: Montezuma (2), Deaths among cases: LaPlata (2), Montezuma (1), sjbpublichealth.org, montezumacounty.org
Colorado COVID-19 totals: 49,436 cases, 6,572 hospitalized, 1,852 deaths among cases, 1,729 deaths due to COVID-19, 568,127 tested, 509 outbreaks, colorado.gov
15 year-old, Durango, Colorado girl, Jaden Forquer is missing since 2 pm, August 5. Description: brown hair, brown eyes, 5'7-5'8, 145-155 lbs, last told a friend that she was in a vehicle up by Denver heading towards Wyoming. Please contact local law enforcement with any information.

Southwest Colorado teachers regaled lawmakers with stories of colleagues living in cars, working two to three jobs, and dealing with underfunded programs in a bid to gain support for more pay.

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SOUTHWEST COLORADO TEACHERS ARE LIVING IN THEIR CARS, WORKING TWO OR MORE JOBS, OR ARE LEAVING THE PROFESSION BECAUSE THEIR SALARIES ARE AMONG THE LOWEST IN THE STATE. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE, AND YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. MORE THAN 80 TEACHERS FROM SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN SOUTHWEST COLORADO GATHERED IN THE MANCOS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GYM TO SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR SENATE BILL 89, A MEASURE THAT WOULD SET ASIDE STATE FUNDING SPECIFICALLY FOR  SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO INCREASE STARTING TEACHER SALARIES TO A STATE-DEFINED MINIMUM. THE MEASURE HAS THE SUPPORT OF THE COLORADO EDUCATION ASSOCIATION. DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA McLACHLAN OF DURANGO AND REPUBLICAN STATE SENATOR DON CORAM OF MONTROSE LISTENED ATTENTIVELY TO TEACHERS AS THEY TESTIFIED ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT LOW SALARIES ARE HAVING ON THEIR LIVES, THEIR COLLEAGUES AND THEIR STUDENTS.LIKE FULLY FUNDING SCHOOLS TO PAYING OUR TEACHERS LIVING AND RESPECTFUL WAGES, AND THAT DOESN'T LEAVE A COLLEGE-EDUCATED PROFESSIONAL WITH LESS THAN $500 A MONTH WITH NO SAVINGS OR LIVING OUT OF THEIR CARS OR JUST THIS FEELING OF IMPRISONMENT AND DEPRESSION THAT HAS HAPPENED AND HOPELESSNESS THAT IS GROWING WITHIN OUR RANK AND FILE. AND SO WE NEED TO DO THIS MORE. WE NEED TO FULLY FUND COLORADO SCHOOLS. I'M ONE OF THE MOST EXPERIENCED TEACHERS IN MY POD AS A THIRD-YEAR TEACHER. THAT'S NOT OKAY. HERE'S THE THING, I LOVE TEACHING. MY KIDS, OUTSIDE OF MY FAMILY, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN MY LIFE. I THOUGHT ABOUT QUITTING THE SHOW. ACTUALLY, I'VE ALREADY LOOKED AT OTHER JOBS THIS YEAR, BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT? I CAN GO AND MAKE A LOT OF MONEY DOING LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE, AND THAT WAS AS A SERVER I MAKE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE. MY KIDS DESERVE TEACHERS THAT MATTER AND CARE ABOUT THEM, AND WE CARE, MORE THAN ANYBODY IN CORTEZ EVER. EVERY YEAR MORE INCREDINBLE TEACHERS LEAVE, MORE OF MY, LIKE, AMAZING, AWESOME EDUCATORS WHO REACH AND HELP THESE KIDS OUT. THEY LEAVE TO GO TO SHIPROCK, TO DURANGO TO GO LITERALLY ANYWHERE, TO GO WORK AT WALMART. THE BAYFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT HAS THE HIGHEST AVERAGE SALARY IN SOUTHWEST COLORADO WHILE CORTEZ SALARIES RANK TOWARD THE BOTTOM. CORTEZ VOTERS TURNED DOWN A BALLOT MEASURE LAST NOVEMBER BY A 55 PERCENT TO 45 PERCENT MARGIN. THE PROPERTY TAX INCREASE OF 5 MILLS WOULD HAVE RAISED $2.9 MILLION TO INCREASE TEACHER SALARIES. STARTING SALARY IS ABOUT $31,000 IN CORTEZ. STATEWIDE AVERAGE IS CLOSER TO $33,000, WHILE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE FOR A STARTING TEACHER IS $39,000. COLORADO RANKS 47TH IN THE NATION FOR STARTING TEACHER SALARIES AND IS DEAD LAST IN COMPETITIVENESS, ACCORDING TO THE COLORADO EDUCATORS ASSOCIATION. WHILE EDUCATORS APPLAUDED SENATE BILL 89, BOTH CORAM AND McLACHLAN SAID THEY DIDN'T SUPPORT THE MEASURE FOR DIFFERENT REASONS. CORAM BLAMED THE DROP IN REVENUE AVAILABLE TO EDUCATION BECAUSE OF COLORADO'S EFFORTS TO REGULATE THE ENERGY INDUSTRY.  HE NOTED THAT THE HIGHEST SALARIES IN THE STATE WERE OFFERED IN COUNTIES THAT HAD STRONG ENERGY PRODUCTION ECONOMIES.YOU CAN'T HAVE A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT AND A HEALTHY ECONOMY WITHOUT JOBS, AND I THINK WE HAVE TAKEN A SITUATION THAT WE HAVE DESTROYED SOME VERY, VERY HIGH-PAID JOBS IN MY COMMUNITY. THAT LITTLE TOWN OF NEWTON, THEY'RE TAKING THE SCHOOL APART AND IN THE NATION, CLOSED. NO BIG DEAL. THAT'S A SMALL TOWN. WELL BETWEEN THE COAL MINE, THE TRUCKS RUNNING TO THE COAL MINE OR JUST THE POWER PLANT AND THE POWER PLANT ITSELF WAS A HUNDRED AND 20 TO 360 JOBS AND THOSE ARE A HUNDRED-THOUSAND-DOLLARS WORTH OF PAYCHECKS. McLACHLAN, A RETIRED ENGLISH AND JOURNALISM TEAHER FROM DURANGO, SAID SHE FIRST WANTED TO MAKE UP FUNDING THAT THE STATE CUT FROM EDUCATION TO COVER GENERAL-FUND SHORTAGES THAT STARTED IN 2008 WITH THE GREAT RECESSION. THE TOTAL SHORTFALLS IN FULL FUNDING ARE CALLED THE NEGATIVE FACTOR. IT NOW TOTALS MORE THAN 850 MILLION DOLLARS THIS YEAR.WE SET ASIDE THIS POT OF MONEY FOR TEACHERS BEFORE THE NEGATIVE FACTOR HAS BEEN PAID OFF AND WE OWE THAT TO YOU. PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO SAY, AND THEIR PERCEPTION IS NOT TRUE, BUT THEIR PERCEPTIONS CAN SAY, WELL, TEACHERS ARE FINE. NOBODY ELSE HAS THEIR OWN BANK ACCOUNT. WE DON'T NEED TO PAY TEACHERS ANY MORE BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THEY'VE GOT A BANK ACCOUNT, AND YOU CAN HAVE $5,000 IN THERE, AND PEOPLE WOULD SDIRECTLY INTO YOUR INBOX. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE FOR THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK.AY, ISN'T THAT ENOUGH FOR TEACHERS? THEY HAVE NO IDEA. THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT'S NEEDED TO RAISE SALARIES UP. YOU CAN FOLLOW THIS ISSUE ON THE COLORADO EDUCATION ASSOCIATION WEB SITE AT COLORADO E A DOT ORG. THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS EDITION OF LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE THIS STORY AGAIN, VISIT OUR WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN SIGN UP TO HAVE US DELIVER YOUR NEWS DIRECTLY INTO YOUR INBOX. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE FOR THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK.

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