Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 5pm
North High School
Sandoval Lecture Hall (B243), 2nd Floor
DPS Says It Heard Teacher Concerns; Compensation Proposal Says Otherwise
Public Bargaining on May 30 started off with a bang. In front of a crowd of roughly 71 teachers and community members, and another 2,248 people watching via Facebook, The DCTA Bargaining Team, accompanied by three teachers’ testimony, firmly rejected the District’s proposal on teacher evaluations, saying the status quo was no longer an option.
“What it boils down to is that teachers need joint decision-making power over the entire system.” DCTA Bargaining Team Spokesman Robert Gould asserted.
The District then presented their compensation proposal. Under the district’s teacher compensation proposal (revealed Monday night at the DCTA-DPS bargaining session), DPS teachers will receive a flat increase of $572 per year to their base salary. This amounts to an average 1.04 percent increase, but much less for many of the veteran teachers, who the District claims to respect. This increase breaks down to being just barely above $47 per month, before taxes. The national average compensation adjustment for 2017 is 3 percent according to Washington, D.C.-based business forecaster Kiplinger.com.
It’s not hard to imagine why a mere $572 annual salary adjustment feels so inadequate to a professional living in Denver. To provide some perspective, here is how economic conditions feel to a teacher making below $40,000 a year trying to make ends meet:
• Forget buying a home: Between 2000 and 2015, the median sales price for a home in Denver more than doubled.
• Get used to exorbitant rent: Renters in Denver pay $1,220 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,592 for a two-bedroom apartment.
• Don’t go out – ever: A three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in Denver costs approximately $60 – 33 percent higher than the U.S. average of $45.
• Even coffee costs too much: A cappuccino in Denver runs approximately $4.17 (around 12 percent more than the national average price of $3.73).
During the meeting, District representatives said “We heard you on the $50,000 starting salary and we’re trying to reach it incrementally.” But this proposal does not go anywhere near far enough to meet the needs of Denver’s teachers, many of whom cannot even afford to live in the neighborhoods where they teach.
As a result, DPS students suffer. The District’s low compensation guarantees that teacher morale will continue to decrease and fewer highly qualified teachers will pursue a career in Denver. What’s more the teacher exodus from DPS will continue; currently an average 1,000 teachers leave the district each year.
The second part of the District’s financial proposal was to expand the Hard-to-Serve bonus to all Title I schools, which would allow for 60% of teachers in the District to receive it. The catch, however, is that, starting in 2018, those teachers would have to commit to an extra two days added to their calendar year, at a lower rate of pay, with the promise that those would be “planning days”. While teachers need more planning time, these added days are not the solution.
Finally, the District verbally committed to requiring only one SLO for the 2017-2018 school year but were unwilling to guarantee that that number would not go up in subsequent years in contract language.
“The District continues to take uncompromising positions, our teacher workloads are unsustainable, we have discipline problems everywhere and morale is down district-wide,” said Henry Roman, president of DCTA. “Yet, DPS continues to provide zero leadership when it comes to real solutions that could move the needle in the right direction. When you don’t support teachers, you don’t support students.”