Yesterday, your DCTA Bargaining Team met with DPS officials to continue negotiations on a Master Agreement. Read our update below!
In a surprise move, DPS presented the DCTA Bargaining Team with a new proposal on finances. Here’s our breakdown of what was proposed:
Year 1: Each teacher receives an additional $1100 onto their base salary
Year’s 2 & 3: Each employee will receive an increase equal to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), minus the cost for steps and lanes.
While we applaud the movement on year 1, from just over $500 to $1100 in this proposal, we also know that this isn’t enough to create a living wage in Denver. Further, rather than committing to a pathway to a $50k starting salary, DPS’s proposals for years 2 and 3 actually set our teachers further behind. Traditionally, the cost of steps and lanes were not taken into account when calculating the CPI. Now, the District wants to subtract that cost before giving raises, meaning that teachers will receive increases less than the cost of living increase in those years. This is simply unacceptable.
Expand the Hard-to-Serve Incentive to all Title 1 schools, including teachers on the traditional salary schedule.
Again, while we are glad that the District is talking about increasing money in teachers’ pockets this year, due to the nature of incentives like this one, it is not base-building. Instead, it is a bonus that a teacher may or may not receive each year and provides no financial security moving forward. Teachers across the District have been clear that they need more base-building proposals that allow them to plan their financial future.
Expansion of the Contract Year
DPS has proposed increasing the contract year from 186 days to 187.
Despite the propaganda sent out by the District, this proposal does not increase the number of planning days. In fact, it only creates more work for teachers. The real proposal by the District is to convert one of the current planning days to a student contact day, and increasing the contract year by one day to give that planning day back. This proposal in no way increases the number of planning days. At yesterday’s session, Michelle Berge, Chief spokesperson for the District, made that point very clear.
Health Insurance Benefits
An increase of $1200 per year to those who insure children with District Health Insurance, but all new teachers who do not take the health insurance due to its extreme costs would lose the $422 health insurance stipend.
DCTA does not agree with the District’s idea that the only way to make health insurance more affordable is to steal money from future teachers. We believe that the District should put more money into bringing premiums down so that more teachers will be interested in the insurance they offer. Further, this also hurts future teachers who have a spouse or other family member with health insurance already.
Updates from the District. As we stated earlier, sometimes these updates contain information that is less than factual, either on purpose on or by mistake. We completely understand that that can happen from time-to-time especially given that these updates come from Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova and are signed by Superintendent Boasberg. Susana and Tom rarely come to bargaining. Tom, in particular, has never engaged in the process while there, and Susana does only when she is not texting on her two cell phones. DCTA believes that the best way for the two parties to agree on a master agreement is for both of those individuals to come to the table and participate in the negotiations, since they are the ones who make the decisions on behalf of the District. Also, it would make it easier for them to send updates that are factual if they were actually there, rather than getting the information from someone else and then sending it out.
Classroom Size. Your DCTA Bargaining Team has proposed classroom caps of 25 students. The District rejected that proposal, citing the supposed high cost of doing so. When pushed for data on the subject, the District provided “state data” (which is collected by the District and reported to the state) showing that the average class has 15 students. When pressed on the integrity of the data, DPS officials admitted that the data was flawed and claimed that they could not find better data. This misleading data hurts our students by hiding their true experiences. Many of our teachers have self-reported to us classroom sizes of 30 or more. The District needs to collect honest data and report it so that our communities see the reality of the classroom sizes that our students face.
Mediation. Finally, after last night’s session, officials from both parties agreed to a mediator from the American Arbitration Association, as required in our Contract. If you recall, previously DPS had been insisting on using a federal mediator in lieu of AAA. Federal mediators are not able to mediate in public. We are happy that this issue was resolved and look forward to working together to resolve our contract.
The DCTA Bargaining Team and DPS representatives will meet in a Bargaining Session tomorrow, Aug. 16 from 4 – 8 p.m. at North High School. Be sure to come out and support your colleagues and students.