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DPS, teachers union fail to reach deal, members to vote on potential strike Saturday

The union still wants $8 million more than DPS’ offered $26.5 million in raises.

DENVER — Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association failed to make a deal to avoid a strike Friday night.

Among the sticking points are base salaries. DPS is offering $26.5 million in raises – something Superintendent Susana Cordova said averages out to around 10 percent per teacher. But the union is asking for an additional $8 million – which they say is just 1 percent of the district’s budget.

The bargaining also included simplifying the pay system and a clear way for teachers to earn incentives.

“We do have a gap,” Cordova said during Friday’s negotiations. “We have about a $9 million gap. We’re a lot closer, and the reason we’re a lot closer is because we’ve made movement, 90 percent of the way, and you’ve moved 10 percent.”

Rod Gould, the lead negotiator for the teachers union, disagreed.

RELATED: Negotiations continue between Denver teachers, school district

“This was Tuesday at 11 a.m. when we posed the question,” he said. “Are you willing to look and to do the structure of where we’re at? What I’m hearing you say is no, you’re not willing to work through a structure, but you’re still looking at it, so you might.”

As of just before 5:30 p.m., the union was determining whether to accept the deal as it stands.

The union is expected to hold a strike vote on Saturday afternoon. If the teachers vote to strike, the superintendent said she will ask the state to intervene.

But after two years of negotiations, the state may not have any reason to step in. And if the state doesn’t get involved, teachers could start walking the picket line by Jan. 28.

The last Denver teacher strike was in the fall of 1994. Bernie Lopez was one of the teachers on the picket line, and he said teachers then were fighting for more pay and more power – which isn’t different than the struggle today.

"It was extremely, extremely scary," Lopez said. "I thought there was a possibility I would lose my job."

RELATED: Denver teachers may vote to strike in 9 days

RELATED: DPS, teachers continue to negotiate as strike looms

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