For the first time since 1994, the Denver teachers will strike, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association announced in an official statement Saturday.
After the 14-month attempts with Denver Public Schools (DPS) to find a better solution for the district's compensation system fell through, Denver teachers will walk off the classrooms on Monday, February 11.
For the past year, both parties have been trying to negotiate the Professional Compensation System for Teachers, better known as ProComp, that entered into force in 1999. The ProComp contract expired on January 18. It offered numerous incentives to allow teachers, medical personnel and in-house psychologists to earn more money on top of their pay.
Denver Classroom Teachers Association and Denver Public Schools both claimed they had ideas to improve the current payment scheme. The teachers' union proposed USD 28.5 million for teacher wages. The district could only afford USD 23.3 million.
The USD 5.2 million difference in expectations is not the only issue. In addition to that, both parties have failed in finding a solution to the problem with the increased teachers' compensation in time.
As for the bonuses, the district's agenda put in more favorable position teachers in high-poverty schools where the openings are hard to fill in. On the other hand, the teacher's association came up with more options to get a pay raise and more opportunities for continuing education.
Following parents' concerns, Denver Public School Superintendent Susan Cordova confirmed the district has been working hard to keep the schools running during the strike and find enough substitute teachers. The families will receive notification whether their children's school will be open Monday. Also, DPS would not charge any tuition fee for the canceled early childhood education programs.
However, it does not apply for all early education classes which will be suspended as the district did not manage to find enough qualified personnel for this age group of students. Cordoba said they are trying to find options for all the 4,714 kids currently enrolled in the local early childhood education programs.
In Cordoba's words, they have a database of 1,500 guest teachers and already invited nearly 300 applicants. Furthermore, the district organizes three job fairs in the upcoming week to combat with the teachers' shortage. Cordoba estimated that the strike would cost the district USD 400,000 a day.
Depending on the school, added she, some extracurricular activities such as sports might be affected by the strike, the district confirmed, advising parents to contact the school for more information. The strike would not affect the transportation to and from school as well as the lunch, added from the district.
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