DENVER (KDVR) — Key education workers are falling prey to the ever-mounting expense of living in Colorado.

To help combat that, a group of Denver Public Schools employees is asking for a pay bump. Around 200 of the district’s paraprofessionals rallied on Monday for higher wages.

These paraprofessionals say their wages are not livable. The protesting paraprofessionals are asking for a minimum pay rate of $20 per hour, up from the current minimum pay of $15.87 per hour.

The paraprofessionals serve classroom and administrative support roles including tutors, monitors, library workers and special needs assistants in Denver, which is Colorado’s largest school district. Unlike classroom teachers, paraprofessionals are not required to have a college education.

Denver Public Schools has the state’s largest number of paraprofessionals. There were 2,269 during the fall of 2019, according to Colorado Department of Education staffing records. This means roughly one paraprofessional for every three classroom teachers.

As with teachers, paraprofessionals can earn more pay with more experience. At the very highest level, a DPS paraprofessional can make $29.86 per hour, according to the district’s wage schedule. Job search engine Indeed records an average paraprofessional pay of $18.57 per hour.

DPS teachers are paid for 1,488 working hours per year. Per hour, this means starting paraprofessionals make half a DPS teacher’s starting wage. That gap grows if you look at paraprofessionals of average pay compared to teachers of average pay, where it reaches a deficit of 57%.

Teachers themselves do not make adequate wages to live comfortably in Denver, now one of the country’s most expensive cities. Paraprofessionals are burdened even more so.

SmartWallet estimates a single person needs to bring home $59,000 after taxes in order to live comfortably in the Denver metro area. Denver’s average teacher is about $15,000 a year short of this mark, assuming a quarter of their gross pay goes to taxes. Its average paraprofessional is nearly $51,000 a year short.