Members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association have voted overwhelmingly to accept the agreement reached between the union and the school district on Wednesday, according to a release from the union.
Union teachers participated in a three-day-long strike earlier this month that ended early on Valentine's Day. The tentative agreement they'd reached still had to be formally ratified by the Denver Board of Education and the union. Now, just the education board needs to approve the deal.
Spokespersons Will Jones and Anna Alejo for Denver Public Schools both said a vote on the new agreement has not been scheduled for the Board of Education but said they were working on it. The full tentative agreement can be read at this link.
Highlights of the agreement include an increase of between 7 and 11 percent in base salary on a clear and transparent 20-step salary schedule, full cost of living increases in years two and three of the agreement, and the opportunity to use professional development to move lanes on the salary schedule. The union also said the deal would bring an end to exorbitant five-figure bonuses for senior DPS administrators.
The strike, which started on Monday, marked the first for Denver teachers in 25 years. It was preceded by weeks of failed negotiations. The key points of contention between the teachers union and the district were base salaries and the incentive-based pay system.
The Denver teachers strike, which came on the heels of a weeklong dispute in Los Angeles, attracted national attention, with Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris tweeting their support. Colorado contenders -- including former Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sen. Michael Bennet -- were largely silent. Bennet was in a particularly difficult position since he is a former superintendent of DPS
The seeds for the strike were planted on Nov. 1, 2005, when Denver voters approved a new way to pay teachers, commonly referred to as ProComp. It’s a pay system on top of a teacher’s normal contract that attaches incentive pay to student performance.
Fast-forward to March 2018 and DPS and the DCTA successfully negotiated a new master contract for the district’s teachers. The ProComp contract was extended to Jan. 18, 2019, but negotiations were ongoing. A month later, teachers rallied at the state Capitol as a part of the protests planned by educators nationwide over low school funding.
In September of last year, DCTA declared an impasse and said a mediator was needed. Despite going at it for months, the mediation was not successful and on Jan. 8 of this year the union filed its intent to strike with the Department of Labor and Employment and gave its required-by-law 20-day notice.
Despite ongoing negotiations, the two sides could not come to an agreement before the ProComp portion of Denver teachers’ contracts expired on Jan. 18. Four days later, the union said 93 percent of its members voted to strike.
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