DENVER (CN) – Votes counted over the weekend showed 97 percent of Denver Classroom Teachers Association members support the contract reached with the school district in which the average teacher will see an 11.7 percent raise.
“This agreement secures fair, predictable base pay for Denver educators and will go a long way to eliminating pay fluctuations that have made it difficult for educators to plan a teaching career and a life in Denver,” said union president Henry Roman in a statement. “With competitive pay in place, the district has taken an important first step in reversing the worst teacher retention rate in the metro area and providing much-needed stability for student learning.”
Under the new agreement, average base salaries will increase 11.7 percent across a 7-lane, 20-step salary schedule. Entry-level wages start at $45,800 with the option to earn $100,000 after 20 years for those with a doctorate.
Educators can advance lanes by earning college credit, an advanced degree, professional development units, or simply by sticking around. Ten years of employment in the district equates to one lane jump.
The union criticized the old evaluation system as unreliable since bonuses given for teaching in high-achieving or high-poverty schools could change year to year.
“The last time I went to buy a car, they asked me what my pay was and I said I had absolutely no idea,” said one Teller Elementary School teacher who asked not to be named. “Superintendent [Susana] Cordova inherited a very big problem and we’ve been lied to about a lot of things, but I respect that she’s been here through every meeting.”
The agreement, finalized on Sunday, officially ends 15 months of bargaining between the district and the union. Throughout negotiations, the district and the union remained largely divided on the weight incentive bonuses should have in their compensation structure.
Under the new agreement however, the union agreed to a $3,000 bonus for high-priority teachers on the condition the district will study other non-monetary issues to retain educators, including smaller class sizes and strengthening curriculum.
The district found the funding for high-priority teachers by cutting bonuses to office administrators.
Teachers will not be paid for the three days they spent on strike, though the district has offered one make-up day. The union will distribute $500 grants to teachers, paid for by the $42,269 raised by 660 donors in a GoFundMe drive.
The compact between Denver Public Schools and its educators will last through August 2022.
Meanwhile, a teacher strike in Oakland, California, entered its third day Monday with wages and retention being main points of contention there as well.