DENVER (CBS4) – In a four-block march from the capitol to district offices downtown, hundreds of teachers from Denver Public Schools rallied for better pay.
“We need to make sure that we are teaching our students, but we also need to feed our own families,” teacher Paula Zendle said. “We need to pay the bills. We can’t afford to live in Denver.”
Wednesday’s rally comes after 93 percent of teachers voted to strike and the district requested state help to come up with a deal. Both sides have agreed to meet back at the bargaining table Thursday evening.
“We are not getting fair pay in comparison to districts like Cherry Creek,” Zendle added. “We are not getting paid what we’re worth and the DCTA contract that is put in from of them doesn’t even get us all the way to completely competitive with our cost of living.”
While the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) and the district agree base bay for teachers needs to be higher, they have not reached common ground on incentives and retention bonuses. For first years teachers like Mariah Farris, it could be the difference between chasing her dream or looking for a new career.
“It’s a tough decision right now if I want to stay in the profession,” the 4th grade teacher said. “It’s depressing.”
Administrators say the proposal they put on the table includes one of the highest starting rates for teachers in the metro area, and the average teacher seeing an increase in pay around 10 percent.
On the eve of another round of negotiations, there is some hope DPS and the teachers union will reach a compromise.
“We want to get back to teaching our kids,” Zendle said. “I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night being stressed out about a strike. I want to teach my students, so the district just needs to get it done. The DCTA contract is more than fair. It’s the right thing to do. Just get it done.”
DPS and the DCTA have agreed to meet Thursday evening from 5-8pm.