Against a backdrop of protests, teacher contract negotiations in Denver get heated

Shelby Hill, who teaches 1st grade in Englewood, joined other Colorado educators at rally at the Colorado State Capitol to call for increased eduction funding on April 16, 2018 in Denver.

Buoyed by the energy of recent teacher protests, plus a sizable increase in state education funding, the Denver teachers union is renewing its push to get the school district to agree to a new teacher pay structure.

The union has proposed a salary schedule that would pay the most senior teachers with the highest degrees a base salary of $100,000. District officials said the union’s plan is too expensive, even with the additional state money Denver Public Schools will receive.

That didn’t sit well with teachers who came on May 16 to watch the first negotiation session since the district and the union last met in March. Teachers shouted that after thousands of them marched on the state Capitol in April to demand more money for schools, the state budget is predicted to send $50 million more to Denver next year. Union leaders referenced recent teacher strikes in other districts and said Denver could do the same.

“We got the money!” one teacher hollered. “We just want a little piece of it!”

District officials said most of the additional money – which they calculate will total less than $50 million – will be spent on previously negotiated teacher raises, as well as boosting pay for the district’s lowest-wage workers.

“There’s not new money sitting around or going to other places,” Denver Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Mark Ferrandino said in an interview.

Read the full story at Chalkbeat Colorado.

Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit chalkbeat.org/co.

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