Negotiations to Improve Our Teachers’ Salary System
The Board of Education held a special meeting the afternoon of January 16, 2019 to get an update about continued negotiations with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) on how to achieve an improved salary system for our educators.
Superintendent Susana Cordova, Chief Legal Counsel Michelle Berge and Chief Financial Officer Mark Ferrandino discussed highlights of the district’s latest salary table, including a salary finder educators can use to compare their current pay to what it would be under the proposal.
Board Member Angela Cobian said she wanted to clarify for the public and staff the role of ProComp dollars, the additional funds approved by voters in 2005 specifically to incentivize and recognize teacher excellence.
Berge said some teachers have suggested eliminating ProComp altogether in order to simplify the salary structure. However, she said, “If we don’t remain true to the spirit of what voters intended ProComp to do, we risk a lawsuit and the potential loss of this $33 million in pay for our teachers.”
But Cordova said there is much room for improvement, and that’s what the district has been striving for. She said the district and DCTA have found many areas they agree upon about how to improve our teachers’ salary system.
“In ProComp, we had a system that had no table, no steps and no lanes. We heard teachers’ feedback that it was confusing, and that it was hard to figure out what their pay might be from one year to the next,” said Cordova. “We have heard and responded to the requests that we create a clearer and more predictable salary table, that it recognizes both longevity and education attainment, and allow teachers not have to document their professional development units to grow their base pay. We were asked to put more money into ProComp and we have committed an additional $23 million so that every educator will receive an increase — on average a 10% increase in base pay — and no salary caps. And we’ve increased our tuition reimbursement/loan forgiveness reimbursement by 25%.”
Board Member Lisa Flores said a previous version of the proposed salary table included estimates of how many teachers would be in each step, which helps give a clearer picture of whether the proposal equitably benefits teachers at all stages of their career. Ferrandino said it would be easy to make those numbers public, and Cordova noted that the district’s latest proposal is stronger than previous proposals for mid- and late-career teachers, in response to concerns from teachers.
Cobian also asked if the district could do an overlay of how the DCTA and the district proposals impact teachers of color in particular. Board Member Jennifer Bacon said she also wanted to better understand how the latest proposal impacts the many educators in her district who work in high poverty schools.
Berge shared that the DCTA’s current proposal reduces the $12 million we have historically used to incentivize teachers to work in our highest poverty schools to only $2 million. They proposed using these funds instead to give increases to all teachers in all schools. “We have not wanted to stray from the board’s priority around our high poverty schools,” she shared.
Board Vice President Barbara O’Brien asked and the board agreed to give the negotiating team approval to focus remaining negotiations around the board’s values for supporting historically underserved schools and hard-to-staff classrooms.
Board Chair Anne Rowe thanked everyone who has put so much hard work into the negotiations.
Cordova said that, during the superintendent search process, she heard from our teachers and the community “how important it is to build trust. So, my approach with these negotiations has been to be totally transparent and put everything on the table up front so that our teachers have time to really review and evaluate our proposal and provide thoughtful feedback. We are negotiating in good faith to reach an agreement.”
Negotiations will continue Thursday, January 17, 2019. Stay up to date and give us feedback at greatteachers.dpsk12.org.