Denver Public Schools offers 10 percent raises for teachers as possible strike approaches

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said the district is offering approximately 10 percent raises to teachers this year, putting educators on a track to make as much as $100,000 annually.

“Based on what we’re proposing today, the average teacher’s base salary will grow by roughly 10 percent,” Cordova said in her online video message released late Friday. “That’s growth from this year to next year, not growth over multiple years. We’ve also created a pathway to a $100,000 teacher, and that’s in our base pay.”

But Margaret Bobb, a recently retired DPS teacher, wrote an email to The Denver Post saying that the average teacher salary in Denver last year was $53,000. The 10 percent salary increase wouldn’t bring most teachers anywhere near $100,000, according to her.

“That sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t bring DPS up to parity with other metro districts, who get the same state funding as DPS,” Bobb wrote, referring to the 10 percent raise.

Cordova’s message comes after two days of negotiations between DPS and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association in which educators said they are prepared to strike for the first time since 1994.

Although Cordova has vowed to keep schools open regardless of a strike, she said will work hard for a resolution.

“I know we can get an agreement,” Cordova said in her message.

Three more bargaining sessions are scheduled for next week. The contract covering the district’s 4,300 teachers expires Jan. 18, and the union has scheduled a strike vote for the following day if an agreement isn’t reached as previously reported.

According to the district’s proposal Tuesday, DPS would add $17 million toward teacher pay. The union is asking the district to invest about $30 million toward teacher pay.

In her message, Cordova said she and other district officials have listened carefully to teacher concerns.

“We’ve heard about the importance of growing the pie of funding available to invest in our teachers and SSPs (Special Service Providers). … They’ve spoken about increasing base salaries, with fewer incentives,” she said in her message.

“We’ve heard clearly the importance of predictability in making sure teachers they know where they are on the salary table and how their salary will grow over time. We’ve heard about honoring teacher’s investments in their education,” she said. “I’ve definitely heard frustrations about not moving quick enough to get to an agreement. I share that sentiment, and my commitment is to do everything I can to reach that negotiated agreement that everyone can feel good about.”

The district is offering to add a lane on its salary table that increases wages based on how much teachers are earning, she said.

In an email, substitute teacher Nina Barber wrote that she would not work if there is a teacher’s strike after witnessing numerous problems at her school during the 1994 strike. She said it was chaotic.

“I retired last year, frustrated that I could never again increase my base salary no matter how loyally I continued to work for DPS,” Barber wrote.

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