By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Parents sending their children to Denver Public Schools are eager to see the result of the teachers union vote Tuesday which could approve a strike for the first time in 25 years.

(credit: CBS)

“I think what they’re requesting is absolutely reasonable,” said Donna Benton, a parent with two students in DPS. “I think it makes up for a lot of what they haven’t gotten over the years.”

Her daughter attends North High School while her son is enrolled at Skinner Middle School. Benton has been a parent in the district for a decade and moved her family to the city to give them a more diverse experience.

(credit: CBS)

“Denver is an expensive place to live, we want the best teachers, we want to be able to attract the best teachers,” she said.

Negotiations failed on Friday. The Denver Classroom Teachers Association began voting on Saturday to either ratify the deal from the district or approve a strike, and teachers were given another day to vote, on Tuesday, because of the holiday weekend.

A strike could begin as early as Monday, Jan. 28.

Donna Benton (credit: CBS)

“They need to come to the table before that happens,” Benton said of the district. “It’s unreasonable to think that we’re all going to send our kids and there’s not going to be teachers there.”

Gov. Jared Polis’ office told CBS4 he has talked to both sides already and hopes to avoid a strike. If the union approves going in that direction, Polis can intervene to help reach a deal and delay a strike.

Benton says she expects the district to make sure it has the staff in place to keep schools operating if teachers are on the picket line.

(credit: CBS)

“They need to make sure my children are being educated with or without a strike,” she said.

The district has released some of the steps it will take to respond to a strike. Staff said Tuesday they still hope to reach a deal but will have regular services including transportation and meal programs in place.

To keep the schools operating, DPS plans to pull from a pool of 1,200 substitute teachers, 300 of which retired teachers. Rates will be $212 a day for substitutes and $250 a day for retired teachers, double the usual amount.

(credit: CBS)

The district also will see if furloughed federal employees can work during a possible strike.

For Benton, she still has the same expectations for her students.

“They still need to be responsible, respectful young adults and go to school,” she said.

The district asks all parents to make sure their contact information is updated before a strike and to use the Parent Portal on the DPS website.

Shawn Chitnis

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