Bargaining Update – Innovation Tentative Agreement Reached

This week, our bargaining team and the district reached a tentative agreement around Innovation and correcting the inherently flawed process that was often used to systematically remove collective bargaining rights from educators. Most of us know that educator rights and innovative learning are not mutually exclusive. 

In March, the DPS Board of Education voted to pass Executive Limitation Policy 12, a policy that would allow educators at innovation schools to regain their full statutory contractual rights during the innovation renewal process. Over the summer, while educators were trying to recover from the difficult school year, the school board revised this policy by allowing innovation schools to waive contract language including: minimums on planning time, class size caps, duty free lunches, extra duty compensation and more. Because the revised policy was passed, our bargaining team decided to expedite negotiations around the innovation school process to level the playing field and guarantee educator voice throughout the process. 

Our goal throughout this entire process was to ensure that schools are provided with transparency and informed consent throughout the innovation process. Negotiating around this topic has been an extreme challenge however, we believe that this current tentative agreement is a much needed step in ensuring that we have sufficient time and resources to give informed consent if schools choose to waive contract rights that include minimums on planning time, class size caps, duty free lunches and extra duty compensation. 

Key wins from innovation bargaining include: 

  • The DCTA building Association Rep will now be included in the innovation application or renewal process. They will serve as a liaison between the school and DCTA. 
  • If a school chooses to apply for or renew their innovation status, DCTA must be notified within 5 business days so that educators can request guidance. 
  • When applying for innovation status, applications must identify flexibilities that a school seeks to implement, rationale for flexibilities, the collective bargaining agreement waivers associated with these flexibilities (if any), applicable replacement language, and the impact of these flexibilities to members of the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Principals must work collaboratively with the School Leadership Team (or equivalent governing body) and other stakeholders to identify schools “innovations.” Schools that have waived democratically elected and consensus model language from the contract must include the DCTA rep or designee within the development process. 
  • The School Leadership Team will form a plan to engage staff in the development of innovation plans. Innovation plans have been successful when all voices are honored, including dissenting, as this democratic process creates a stronger plan.
  • While preparing to conduct the innovation plan vote, DPS HR must supply the school with an eligible voter list of all DCTA covered employees at the school to ensure vote numbers are accurate. 
  • Schools will provide the draft innovation plan to DCTA covered employees and the DCTA support staff at least 10 work days prior to the innovation status vote to allow educators time to sufficiently read, review and understand the plan. 
  • Innovation plans will gather and determine the progress that the innovation plan has made on students. Just as we would continuously review the progress of our students, schools will now be required to review the progress of their plan.
  • Candidates interviewing for DCTA covered positions within innovation schools or in innovation zones shall be provided with a notice of the school’s status as innovation, a copy of the innovation plan inclusive of waivers to the collective bargaining agreement and innovation plan replacement language. In the past, many new educators to DPS were not told that they were applying to an innovation school nor the ramifications of working in a school that waived the statutory and contractual rights.

We now have a guaranteed seat at the table to ensure students and educators within innovation schools are supported. It is now up to us to exercise our rights and collaborate with one another. We will continue bargaining our master contract with the district in August. Together we are asking for sustainable workloads, preparation time, fair & equitable compensation, meaningful evaluations and professional respect.