DPS Superintendent says planning for teacher strike is premature

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DENVER – The deadline is quickly approaching as Denver Public Schools and the teacher’s union must reach an agreement to avoid a teacher’s strike in the state’s largest district.

FOX31 sat down with the newly appointed DPS superintendent on Monday, Susana Cordova. She said it’s premature to be planning for a strike. But the union said the current salary proposal, in their view, is not enough.

The clock is ticking as another round of negotiations are set to take place between DPS and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. The goal is to come to an agreement on an improved salary system for educators.

“Everybody will go up. Nobody will go down,” DPS Superintendent, Susana Cordova said.

Cordova is a former teacher and principal with nearly 30 years in the Denver Public School District. She says their proposal will add $23 million dollars into teacher’s base salaries.

“We are cutting seven million dollars out of the central office to put into teacher compensation. Seven million dollars is a lot, that’s a lot of people’s jobs. Where was that money going before? It’s in support positions. There’s been a lot of criticism that DPS is too large, too top heavy. We will make significant cuts,” Cordova said.

Cordova said their proposal will increase teacher’s base pay by ten percent.

“The proposal that we have on the table right now makes the DPS starting salary higher than almost every other district. Just with base, when you put it in with incentives, then we have the highest starting salary,” Cordova said.

But the lead negotiator for the teacher’s union says they are not satisfied with the ten percent increase. On the negotiation table, they are asking for $25 million.

“We don’t want to go on strike. We want to be there for the kids in the classroom, but we also need to be there as a teacher and say to Denver, hey, pay us what we’re worth,” Robert Gould with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association said.

In the event of a strike, Cordova said they will do everything to keep schools open. They will utilize their substitute teachers.

“We have a strong group of substitutes who work with us on a regular basis. We’ll continue to do outreach in the event we need to recruit in more substitute teachers. We’ll take all of the licensed staff we have here in our central office support team and deploy them to schools, so parents can feel good that their children are going to be taken care of,” Cordova said.

Tuesday is the next full day of negotiations. Cordova is confident both sides will move towards compromise.

If an agreement is not reached by the end of the week, the union will vote to strike. The teacher’s would not be able to start the strike until the end of the month, January 28 because of legal protocol.

“This is not happening this week, it’s not happening next week – in the event it is happening we’ll make sure we have lots of information for our families,” Cordova said.

Cordova said current teachers can calculate what their salary would be under the new proposal. Log onto the school site and enter your teacher ID.

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