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D20 preparing for teachers to call out sick on Friday in protest of proposed schedule changes

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Academy School District 20 has confirmed with 13 Investigates they are aware that some teachers in the district, possibly hundreds, plan on calling out sick Friday in protest of recent changes in the district.

A spokesperson for D20 says the potential "sick-out" stems from the district's proposal to change the high school teaching schedule. The district's school board will be hearing a presentation at Thursday's meeting -- the change would involve adding one more section to high school teachers' schedules. Teachers tell 13 Investigates, the new policy would take away a 'planning period', and replace it with a new course.

"We don't know if there will be 50 teachers calling out or 500 teachers," Allison Cortez a spokesperson for D20 said in an email. "Also, because this is about the high school teaching schedule, we believe it will only impact the high schools, but again, we cannot say for sure."

Cortez says the district is closely monitoring the situation and any absences being put into the district's leave request system.

The district will send a communication out to parents later this afternoon, and again this evening as they continually monitor the situation.

Cortez says if enough teachers call out school closures are "certainly a possibility."

"We are hoping that will not be the case. But if we cannot safely operate school due to lack of teachers and staff, that will be our only option," Cortez told 13 Investigates.

A statement was sent to KRDO on behalf of the teachers:

For years District 20 teachers have been asking for a seat at the table; to have their voices and expertise recognized in the decision making processes. Unfortunately, though, D20 administrators have chosen to ignore the valid concerns of hundreds of its teachers and move forward with a schedule change that will increase the workloads of high school teachers by nearly ten percent.

We are already experiencing an exodus of veteran, highly-skilled teachers due to poor pay and benefits. The proposed schedule change will only accelerate this crisis and the students of Academy District 20 will suffer as a result. We are already unable to fill math and science positions with a qualified candidate, and the district is eliminating one of its last compelling benefits - increased plan time.

Friday’s ‘Day of Frustration’ is our way of standing in solidarity with teachers across the district and to send a clear, unified message that the district cannot squeeze any more from its teachers and classified staff without adequate compensation, plan time, and acknowledging that what is best for our students is not always what is best for the district’s bottom line.’

Statement on 'Day of Frustration' D20 protest

Also in a statement to 13 Investigates, the Academy Education Association, a teachers union for D20, said the potential policy change shows the district's lack of compassion for teachers:

Tomorrow, Academy educators will be protesting the district's continued disrespect for its educators. Our educators continually answer the call for our students and the district continues to show that they don't value us.
Our educators are being asked to do more with less and we demand that they be compensated accordingly. We demand that our students AND educators be given the resources they need to have a high quality public education. We demand that our superintendent visit our schools; talk to our educators, get our input on policies and decisions that affect the district. We are experts in our field. Entrust us and utilize us; we know our students and we know what is best for our classrooms. We demand time. We need time to plan. We need time to ensure that each and every student has the time and the resources they need to succeed.

Finally, this should be a wakeup call for our elected officials as collective bargaining is a way to show respect for our educators. Educators deserve a seat at the table because, ultimately, our working conditions are our students' learning conditions.

Cari Fox, President of Academy Education Association

This is a developing story, we're working on getting more information.

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Dan Beedie


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