Denver teachers union and district reach agreement on 8.7% pay rise and duty-free lunches

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The Denver Teachers Union and Denver Public Schools have reached a tentative agreement that raises salaries an average of 8.7%, sets the starting salary just above $50,000 and promises teachers more planning time during working day.

The announcement of an agreement comes after a marathon negotiation session between the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and district leaders that began Wednesday morning and ended Thursday morning.

The previous contract, approved after the 2019 teachers’ strike, expired on Wednesday. The students returned to class on August 22.

Districts across the region have announced substantial wage increases as they battle staff shortages, fierce competition for employees and inflation.

The main sticking points in the negotiations included compensation and the workload of special service providers. The teachers’ union had proposed a 12% increase in the cost of living on top of the planned increases teachers get for years of experience and levels of education, known as steps and pathways. The district had proposed a 3.5% increase in the cost of living, with the average increase approaching 6.2% for steps and driveways.

According to a district press release, returning teachers will see an average increase of 8.7%. The deal will cost the district $40.5 million in teacher compensation in the first year. The starting salary will be set at $50,130 per year. The district plans to invest an additional $2.5 million in health insurance cost coverage.

“This new agreement represents continuity of teaching and learning for our teachers and students, something we desperately need as we all work to help our students get back on track after the pandemic,” Superintendent Alex Marrero said in the press release.

The district touted the “protected, out-of-classroom time” in the new contract as the best in the metro area. The new contract promises teachers a 45-minute tax-free lunch each day and at least five hours a week of independent planning time for primary teachers, with secondary teachers getting an additional 45 minutes on top.

Widespread staff shortages last year meant many teachers lost planning time and lunch breaks as they filled in for missing colleagues. The district did not provide details on how it would protect teachers’ time this school year.

The agreement also calls for the creation of a committee to examine class size issues and a new platform to discuss racial equity, including efforts to recruit and retain more educators. of color. The majority of Denver teachers are white, while the majority of Denver students are not.

Union members and the Denver School Board have yet to ratify the agreement.

Additional details about the deal were not immediately available. This story will be updated as we learn more.

Bureau Chief Erica Meltzer covers education policy and politics and oversees Chalkbeat Colorado’s education coverage. Contact Erica at [email protected].

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational changes in public schools.

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