DENVER — Denver Public Schools has reached an agreement with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association on revised contract terms, the DPS superintendent announced Friday morning.
The contract negotiations were reopened by DPS due to a funding shortfall caused by the novel coronavirus crisis. DPS said it is facing a $64 million budget gap from what was projected in January for the following school year.
After DPS requested to sit down with DCTA to revisit salary and benefits for the coming year, DCTA President Tiffany Choi released a statement saying, “DCTA recognizes that in the wake of a pandemic and economic crisis, everyone will need to make sacrifices, and we are willing to go to the bargaining table to have this discussion about what is best for our students.”
According to a statement from DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova to DPS employees, under the new agreement, teachers would receive a 0.5% cost-of-living salary increase on Aug. 1 of this year. If Denver voters approve a mill-levy tax increase — which is expected to be on the November ballot — that cost-of-living increase will go up by an additional 0.5%, which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
The agreement also says that teachers would receive their original, contractual salary increases for years of service and for earning advanced academic degrees.
“I’m so grateful to our educators for the dedication and adaptability you’ve shown over the past several months, and I’m pleased our strong partnership with DCTA has continued,” Cordova wrote in a letter to DPS employees. “There was a sense of shared purpose and collaboration that carried through the discussions today, and that got us to an agreement quickly.”
The agreement also includes work calendar adjustments for teachers for the 2020-2021 school year. An additional planning day will be added before the start of the school year to allow for more coronavirus-related adjustments. This work day will be funded by federal CARES Act dollars, Cordova said. One teacher planning day scheduled for the school year will be removed. Teachers an specialized service providers would receive a stipend in October "equivalent to eight hours at the average DCTA bargaining unit member's rate of pay for efforts related to necessary student support because of the COVI-19 pandemic," the letter reads.
The agreement needs to be approved by the Denver Board of Education and DCTA membership, Cordova said in the letter. Those votes are expected in the next few days. The Board of Education will likely vote on the full DPS 2020-2021 budget on June 29.
Cordova said throughout the discussions, both groups were focused on avoiding layoffs and directing as many resources as possible to schools, classrooms, and employees. She said a “crucial factor” in dealing with this funding cut was their strong financial management.
“Having a solid backup of reserve funds, created by efficient cost controls and tight fiscal oversight, has been absolutely critical in getting us through this with limited impact on service and no layoffs,” she wrote in the letter.