DPS teachers prepare for strike; picketing starts 7 a.m. Monday

DENVER -- On an evening normally reserved for grading papers or designing lesson plans, Denver Public Schools teachers had a new project Sunday night: Preparing to strike Monday.

Roughly 100 "strike captains" gathered at the Colorado Education Association building for meetings Sunday afternoon, detailing how the strikes will operate. Most teachers are planning on picketing outside the schools where they teach from 7-9 a.m. A spokesperson for the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (the union representing DPS teachers) says the picketing will mostly be contained to sidewalks off school property.

At homes across the city, teachers made picket signs, voicing their desire for increased pay and an improved pay structure.

"We're feeling confident but discouraged with what the district brought to the table the last few days," says Rachel Davis.

Davis is a choir and theater teacher at McAuliffe Manual Middle School in the Whittier neighborhood, where a few dozen teachers will picket Monday.

"We want parents to see us. We want community members to see us," Davis says.

Her husband and her would like to settle down and buy a home in Denver, but say they simply cannot on her current salary. She says she's been working two extra jobs as a delivery driver and as a choral instructor.

"I love doing that, but I don't want to have to do that to be able to pay my bills," she says.

DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova expressed disappointment Sunday that the teachers union was declining to negotiate on the final day before the strike.

"I think the most important thing we can do is get to work, and I'm not sure I understand why they think we should wait until Tuesday," said Cordova. "So I'm very disappointed.

"I think the cool-down right now is important for both sides, so that on Tuesday, both parties can come back to the table with what we've been asking for," says Davis.

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