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

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
Teaching Live Online Discussion How to Develop Powerful Project-Based Learning
How do you prepare students to be engaged, active, and empowered young adults? Creating a classroom atmosphere that encourages students to pursue critical inquiry and the many skills it requires demands artful planning on the
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
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD

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 LGBTQ Students Are Protected by Federal Anti-Discrimination Law, Education Dept. Says
Schools violate Title IX when they discriminate against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the agency said Wednesday.
4 min read
Demonstrators gather on the step of the Montana State Capitol on March 15, 2021 protesting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Helena, Mont. The Montana Senate Judiciary Committee voted March 18 to advance two bills targeting transgender youth despite overwhelming testimony opposing the measures. The measures would ban gender affirming surgeries for transgender minors and ban transgender athletes from participating in school and college sports. Both bills have already passed the Montana House. They head next to votes by the GOP-controlled Montana Senate.
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Montana State Capitol in March to protest bills on transgender students' ability to play on single-sex sports teams.
Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP
Federal Republicans Want Federal Funding Cuts to Schools Using '1619 Project'—But There's a Twist
A bill from U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton, Mitch McConnell, and others targets schools using lessons based on the New York Times Magazine series.
4 min read
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill.
Evelyn Hockstein/AP
Federal What's at Stake in a Review of Federal Sex Discrimination Protections for Students
The Biden administration's review of Title IX may prompt new guidance on how schools deal with sexual harassment and protect LGBTQ students.
10 min read
Image of gender symbols drawn in chalk.
joxxxxjo/iStock/Getty
Federal Opinion Education Outlets Owe Readers More Than the Narratives They Want to Hear
It's vital that serious news organizations challenge runaway narratives and help readers avoid going down ideological rabbit holes.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty