Clock winding down for Denver Public Schools, teachers union to reach deal

The clock is winding down. Less than 24 hours remain for the Denver Public School District and its teachers union to reach a compromise and avoid having more than 5,000 educators walk out on the job.

“What do we want? Fair pay. When do we want it? Now,” teachers and students chanted outside of South High School Wednesday morning.

Tensions between the state’s largest school district and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association -- the union representing DPS educators -- are heating up. Now, educators and students are making their message clear by staging walk-ins and walk-outs at their schools.

“We would really like to avoid a strike, but when it’s been several months going on almost two years now, we’re not sure what else there is to do,” DPS history teacher Hayley Breden said.

Both the district and the union agree that more compensation is needed for teachers, but the hang-up is how to get there.

“We want to make sure our salary schedule is like what every other school district has in the country and not another experiment like the old ProComp,” said Robert Gould, the lead negotiator for the DCTA.

The district’s superintendent said DPS already laid out its proposal for a 10-percent base salary raise and would provide bonus incentives after teachers achieve higher education.

“We expected to see a counter proposal from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, unfortunately, we didn’t get that,” said Superintendent Susana Cordova.

Meanwhile, the DCTA said in their structure, they want teachers rewarded along the way as they pursue a masters or PhD.

But even if the teachers move to strike, DPS is pledging schools will not close.

“We will work to make sure every school has teachers in the building -- guest teachers, all licensed staff who work in the district outside of classrooms -- to make sure kids are safe,” Cordova said.

If DPS teachers vote to walk out Saturday, Cordova said the strike would not start until the end of the month because of Department of Labor laws.

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