Federal

Denver District, Teachers Reach Tentative Accord

By Vaishali Honawar — August 26, 2008 2 min read

The bitter tug-of-war over Denver’s performance-pay plan has ended with the teachers’ union and the school district reaching a compromise agreement that includes a 3 percent pay raise for all teachers and higher starting salaries.

The pact also includes increased bonuses for those who teach in hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-fill subjects. Veteran teachers, however, could see their raises shrink sharply after 13 years of service.

Contract negotiations in the 74,000-student district attracted the national spotlight this year because of disagreements between the district and the union over changes proposed by Superintendent Michael Bennet to the pay system called Professional Compensation Plan for Teachers, or ProComp. (“Model Plan of Merit Pay in Ferment,” July 30, 2008.)

Boon to Beginners

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, wanted to wait until an external study of the plan is released next year before making major changes, and had threatened a strike if the district continued to push forward with the changes.

Proposed Contract Highlights

3 percent salary raise for teachers in first year, and an added 0.25 percent cost-of-living increase for the following two years.

15 percent increase for the average teacher already in or entering Procomp

$7,000 increase for average beginning teacher

$1,278 increase in bonuses for teachers who work in hard-to-staff schools and hard-to-fill subjects

Creation of a work group to study peer assistance and review

Five late-start days dedicated to teacher professional development

SOURCES: Denver Public Schools; Denver Classroom Teachers Association

This morning, union President Kim Ursetta called the contract “the best deal we could get for our teachers.”

“There were compromises on both sides,” she said.

ProComp is one of the most watched merit-pay plans in the nation because it was jointly devised by the school district and the teachers’ union, leading many to consider it a model plan. Denver’s voters in 2004 agreed to property-tax increases to give it $25 million each year.

But school officials said modifications such as increasing starting salaries were needed to help attract more teachers to the district. Also, each year only part of the funds in ProComp, which add up to $31 million including interest, were paid out. This school year, for instance, less than $7 million will be given out because of the way the program is structured.

School officials and citizens’ groups said instead of building up a surplus, they would like to see all the money targeted toward increasing student achievement.

Under the tentative contract, which teachers are expected to approve by Sept. 9, starting teacher salaries would increase from $35,000 to $42,000, and teachers who agree to teach in hard-to-staff areas and hard-to-fill subjects would see bonuses increase from $1,067 to $2,345.

The proposed contract also adds two more days to the school year, including one day for teacher planning activities.

“This three-year deal will accomplish our mutual goal of rewarding and retaining our current teachers [and] attracting new teachers to DPS,” Superintendent Bennet said in a statement issued jointly with Ms. Ursetta.

Later Opportunities

The agreement would include the formation of a work group to study peer-assistance and -review programs and to make recommendations to improve the district’s practices on mentoring, induction, remediation, and dismissal of teachers.

Teachers would also get more planning time and five late-start days dedicated to professional development.

The teachers’ union board planned to meet tonight and recommend the contract to its 3,200 members. Still, Ms. Ursetta said the agreement has changed the original design and intent of ProComp.

She added that there will be an opportunity to reopen negotiations on ProComp when the external evaluation is released next fall.

“[The new contract] changes the way ProComp was implemented, and we’ll be anxious to work with the district and the outside researcher to see what they have found, what works and what doesn’t work,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the September 03, 2008 edition of Education Week as Denver District, Teachers Reach Tentative Accord

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
The Social-Emotional Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on American Schoolchildren
Hear new findings from an analysis of our 300 million student survey responses along with district leaders on new trends in student SEL.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal As New COVID Concerns Emerge, Biden Administration Keeps Focus on School Reopenings
Amid new COVID-19 concerns, the Biden administration kept its focus on in-person learning, stressing the need for safety precautions.
2 min read
Image of a student holding a mask and a backpack near the entrance of a classroom.
E+
Federal Biden Calls on Schools to Host COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics for Kids 12 and Up
The president is focusing on vaccinating children ages 12 and older as concerns grow about the Delta variant and its impact on schools.
2 min read
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on June 2.
Evan Vucci/AP
Federal How Political Backlash to Critical Race Theory Reached School Reopening Guidance
A lawmaker wants Miguel Cardona to repudiate the Abolitionist Teaching Network after federal COVID-19 documents referenced the group's work.
6 min read
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is seen at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2021 in Washington.<br/>
Graeme Sloan/SIPA USA via AP
Federal Biden Team: Schools Can Go Beyond Trump Rules in Response to Alleged Sexual Misconduct
The Education Department's guidance, released July 20, states that Title IX rules from 2020 lay out "minimum steps" for educators.
3 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty