Denver Public School teachers will return to work this week after the teachers union and Colorado’s largest public school district reached a labor agreement early Thursday morning.
The agreement, which follows an overnight round of mediated negotiations, ends a strike that began Monday.
“This agreement is a win, plain and simple: for our students; for our educators; and for our communities,” said teachers union president Henry Roman, an elementary school teacher. “No longer will our students see their education disrupted because their teachers cannot afford to stay in their classrooms.”
The tentative agreement, which still must be approved by the full Denver Classroom Teachers Association membership, addresses compensation schedules and a bonus structure for teachers.
The agreement will be shared later today, according to the DCTA. According to the union, the agreement includes a 7 percent to 11 percent in base salary, a “clear and transparent 20-step salary schedule, full cost of living increases in years two and three of the agreement, the opportunity to use professional development to move lanes on the salary schedule, and an end to exorbitant five-figure bonuses for senior DPS administrators.”
“Thank you again for all of your patience and understanding this week,” an announcement posted Thursday on the DPS website said. “We’re very pleased to have reached this agreement that provides our educators with a fair, transparent, and highly competitive salary system.”
The tentative agreement invests an additional $23 million in teacher pay, the statement said. “The ProComp incentive for teachers in the highest-poverty schools increases to $3,000, and the incentives for teaching in Title I schools and hard-to-fill positions are $2,000.”
DPS teachers began the strike Monday, with thousands walking off the job. To keep the doors open, the district called in substitutes, offering double the usual rate of pay.
DPS is one of Denver’s largest employers, boasting 207 schools and about 90,000 students.
The strike cost the district about $400,000 each day.
The DCTA’s goal was to change the district’s compensation system, ProComp, which trades higher base pay for bonuses. A starting teacher in Denver earns $43,255 a year. The district offered to raise that to $45,500, but teachers want $45,800. ProComp bonuses can add up to $7,000 to a teacher’s paycheck.
DPS administrators said it’s important to pay teachers well but touted the bonus system as the best way to reward teachers who are either highly effective or who volunteer to work in the lowest-performing schools.
Rob Gould, DCTA’s lead negotiator, said the bonuses “have not been helpful” with retaining teachers.
Teachers have picketed across America, dating back to February 2018. There have been walkouts and demonstrations in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado and Washington state, and most recently in Los Angeles.
The L.A. strike lasted six days in January and threw the city into chaos as many parents kept their kids home and teachers picketed schools.
The strikes could continue: Teachers in Oakland, California, could walk out this month.
This developing story will be updated.
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