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DPS teachers say yes to new pay plan

DENVER - Teachers at Denver Public Schools approved a new pay plan that includes pay incentives for student growth measured by tests.

Mayor John Hickenlooper and DPS Superintendent Jerry Wartgow are big supporters of Professional Compensation System for Teachers, also called ProComp. They say the new program is sure to get the attention of other cities, since it's a first. They also talked about the number of factors that will determine pay raises besides student performance; things including additional education and if a teacher works in an economically-challenged school.

"ProComp will give teachers more control over their financial destiny while closely aligning their work to the district's goals of improving student learning and attracting, retaining and rewarding the best teachers, said union president Becky Wissink.

The district has been testing a pilot form of the plan for the last few years.

"The bottom line is the compensation system's impact on student achievement and our pilot has shown that students benefit when teachers work toward rigorous student achievement objectives," said Board of Education President Les Woodward.

Teachers' raises are usually based on longevity and level of education, and some teachers who oppose the plan want that to stay the same.

Taxpayers will be asked to raise taxes by millions of dollars to fund the new pay plan.

ProComp differs from the current salary system in four distinct ways:

1. The district will pay annual salary increases for demonstrated student growth and bonuses to teachers in schools judged distinguished based on academic gains. It would eliminate scheduled increases solely for years of service.

2. Teachers will receive salary increases for demonstrated acquisition of additional knowledge and skills related to student growth and their instructional discipline.

3. The district will offer incentives for teachers of demonstrated accomplishment who choose to work in schools with the greatest academic need. Similar bonuses will be offered to teachers and specialists who fill positions where there are a shortage of qualified applicants.

4. The net result is that teachers who meet and exceed rigorous expectations in a fair system will have no artificial limits on their annual and career earnings.