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DPS, teacher’s union reach deal to help with $65M budget shortfall

Denver Public Schools asked the teacher's union to revisit a deal that gave pay raises to educators following a three-day strike last year.

DENVER — After 13 hours of negotiations, Denver Public Schools (DPS) reached an agreement Thursday night with the teacher's union (DCTA) to help address budget concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district asked the union to revisit a deal made last year that gave a pay raise to teachers. The 2019 agreement followed a three day long teachers' strike.

"There is nobody I can assure you who is less excited than I am about being in this position," Susana Cordova, DPS Superintendent, said at the beginning of the meeting.

"We've grown in our relationship and I look forward to really working together to try to resolve these issues," Rob Gould, Denver Classroom Teachers Association vice president, said.

The final agreement looks like this:

  • All eligible educators under the DCTA bargaining agreement will receive a step increase effective Aug. 1, 2020.
  • Educators will be eligible for lane movement during the 2020-2021 school year.

This means the timing for step increases and eligibility for lane movements will remain unchanged from the original agreement, so teachers will get their raises on the previously-agreed upon schedule. 

  • For the 20-21 fiscal year, effective Aug. 1, 2020, the District will provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 0.5%. If a mill levy is approved by the voters in November 2020, the District will provide an additional 0.5% COLA effective January 1, 2021.

DCTA said it fought to keep the COLA percentage higher, saying it was most recently 1.9%.

  • Effective school year 20-21, the parties agree to amend Article 8-1 of the Master Agreement and all other applicable agreement provisions to reflect that the contract year shall be 186 days with no adjustment to the salary schedule. The reduction of the contract year will be a non-pupil contact day, with .5 self-directed and .5 professional planning days reduced

Teachers will move to a 186-day contract year, down one day from the current 187-day contract year. They will still be paid the same, and that day will not be taken from classroom time with students.

  • For the 20-21 school year, in addition to the 186-day contract year, educators will attend a paid at per diem professional development day determined by the District to facilitate compliance with COVID-19 related public health measures.
  • For the 20-21 school year, the District shall provide each educator a one-time stipend in October equivalent to 8 hours at the average DCTA bargaining unit member’s rate of pay for efforts related to necessary student support because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit: KUSA
DPS and DCTA reached an agreement late Thursday night.

Superintendent Cordova on Tuesday sent a letter to the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) asking to reconsider salaries and benefits from the master agreement.

In the letter, Cordova details the $3.3 billion revenue shortfall Colorado faces for the coming school financial year, leading to a 5.3 percent gap in the district’s budget.

"While it was the intent of the Denver Public Schools to comply with the economic provisions as contemplated by the agreement, we must take this step to address this unprecedented budgetary shortfall," the letter says. "We are seeking to work collaboratively with the DCTA to find a solution that addresses the unprecedented revenue shortfall in a way that is aligned with our principles and values. To that end, we ask for your availability to negotiate the 2020-21 financial agreements."

The district is also considering other options, including a hiring freeze, larger class sizes, limited sports and activities or tapping into district reserves.

"We are going to use at least $10 million of reserve," Ferrandino said. "Let's be clear about that."

The economic impact of the coronavirus is affecting almost every school district in Colorado, with some systems losing millions of dollars for the next school year.

Cordova sent the following statement about the agreement on Friday morning: 

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