DENVER -- There hasn't been a teachers' strike in Denver since 1994. But on Thursday, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) indicated a strike is possible, after salary negotiations ended Wednesday with no agreement. Their current "ProComp" salary contract expired at midnight.
Corey Kern, Deputy Executive Director for DCTA says the teachers offered to extend their current pay agreement until January, but the district balked at that offer.
"We offered a modest extension to the district through January, to give us time to tackle some of the school funding issues, and also let our teachers know the system would be safe, they wouldn't have to worry about an expiration," said Kern.
After holding walk-ins earlier this week, Denver teachers came into negotiations Wednesday hoping for a pay raise. They want a starting base salary of $45,000 and a pay scale that reflects their experience and education level.
Currently Denver teachers are paid for performance. Those who opt into the "ProComp" system are given various incentives to earn more money.
The union says teachers in Denver aren't paid enough to buy a home in the district, support a family, or save for retirement.
DPS released this statement Thursday:
We are committed to reaching an agreement with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association on renewing and extending ProComp as soon as possible. Yesterday, after many months of negotiations and 15 hours of bargaining, we believed we were making progress towards a renewal of the ProComp agreement, which expired at midnight last night. We were not able to get to an agreement yesterday but believe we can do so soon. We have also been clear that we are willing to continue with the current agreement.
To get to an agreement and give teachers clarity around any potential changes for next year, we provided DCTA with three possible signed extensions -- 45 days, 90 days or, in the event they felt significant extra time was needed, a three-year extension. DCTA negotiators declined and walked away from the bargaining table, saying they would only agree to a 10-month extension. We have spent years now with DCTA listening to teacher input and reviewing best practice research and feel that, with good faith, there is no reason we can't reach agreement this spring.
We would like to emphasize that, despite this breakdown in negotiations, we are committed to continuing to make all payments to teachers under ProComp.
We want to provide you with certainty about your compensation and we believe our proposal responds to the key requests we've heard from you in recent years about ways to improve ProComp. We remain committed to working with DCTA to reach an agreement and we welcome the opportunity to return to negotiations at any time. In the meantime, we will continue ProComp in its current state and ensure you receive the payments which you have earned.
Here is the latest proposal we shared during negotiations yesterday. Elements of the proposal are designed to address the issues we have heard most frequently, including:
Simplify the system and make compensation more predictable.
Honor educators by ensuring you can continue to grow your compensation throughout your entire career.
Empower teachers and specialized service providers to grow your pay as master educators.
Honor commitment to educators in our highest-poverty schools.
Offer all our educators still on the traditional salary schedule the opportunity to opt into ProComp.
Honor the ProComp mill levy ballot language, which reflects our obligations to Denver voters.
We hope we are able to report progress in negotiations soon. If you have questions or concerns about our proposal or ProComp, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will strive to ensure your questions are answered.
Thank you for the work you do every day for Denver's kids.