"I truly believe that they do not want to have a collective bargaining agreement next year for the teachers," said Brenda Smith, president of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers and Classified Employees.
Smith and other union leaders have made a formal appeal to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Smith wants to have a mediator step in to continue negotiations because she believes the district is not dealing with any intent to close the deal.
"It seems that each time we get closer to, what I believe, to having a settlement, the district moves the goalposts," Smith said.
In the heavily conservative and Republican Douglas County, there are beliefs that the school board is effectively trying to kill the union.
"They're trying to silence teacher voices," Smith said.
But, Douglas County School Board Vice President Dan Gerken says those notions are just plain false.
"For those who think we are union busters, the board just voted 7-0 to approve our ATU contract which is our transportation union," Gerken said.
According to Gerken the teachers are just asking for too much. The district is currently offering a 1 percent raise and 1 percent retention bonus. The union wants a 2 percent raise, but it is also seeking other contract language which ensures more teacher collaboration in school decisions.
"One person's collaboration is another person's cronyism," Gerken said.
Gerken says if no deal is reached by June 30th the school district will be fine.
"I'm very optimistic and confident that the district is going to move full steam ahead," Gerken said.
But, some parents are not so sure. Sandy Holobaugh has two kids in Douglas County Schools. She is concerned about the divide between teachers and district leaders.
"I think the teachers really need to voice their opinions and be heard," Holobaugh said. "I'm a Republican, and I'm a conservative. But, ultimately, I have to put that aside and look at teacher and kids and how we fund schools."
Jim Lambert also has two kids in Douglas County Schools. He does not believe the district is trying to kill the union. But, he does want to see some sort of resolution.
"We've got to find another way to make this happen," Lambert said. "There's a risk behind going (the other) way."
The school district has 10 days to respond to the request made by the teachers union. But, regardless of what happens, school will start on time for fall semester. Teachers have already signed individual contracts for next year without a collective bargaining agreement.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)