DENVER (CBS4) – While Denver families are now dealing with the reality of a strike that’s in progress, Denver Public School officials and the Denver Classrooms Teachers Association will head back to the bargaining table on Tuesday in an attempt reach a deal.

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Teachers left their classrooms to join the picket line Monday after nearly 15 months of failed negotiations.

“I felt it was strong. I felt really energized,” Eagleton Elementary teacher Lauren Gutenplan said while rallying at the State Capitol.

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The breakdown in discussions is not just about more money, it is about pay structure.

“ProComp intentionally was designed to say pay teachers in a different way than every other systems,” Superintendent Susan Cordova said.

Professional Compensation, also referred to as ProComp, was voter approved in 2005 adding at least $25 million to the budget every year.

It’s performance-based pay with incentive bonuses for things like working in hard-to-staff schools, taking hard-to-fill positions and positive performance evaluations. The school districts’ latest proposal includes on average a 10.9 percent increase to base pay for teachers while also putting more money into those bonuses.

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“The goal of negotiations is to get closer to the middle. DPS is way passed the middle in terms of what we have offered at this point,” Cordova said.

The union wants DPS to move away from the complicated pay system. Teachers say the way the pay structure is now, they have no idea how much they will make year after year.

DCTA’s latest proposal asks for higher base salary and more focus on professional growth and years of experience over incentives.

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Rob Gould is the lead negotiator for the union.

“Today, DPS has been forced to reflect on why we have a vision for a fair, competitive and transparent salary schedule that prioritizes base salary over complicated unreliable bonuses,” he said.

The district sees the incentive-based pay as an important tool to attract and keep teachers in high-need schools.

Teachers argue the uncertainty in pay is forcing them to look for jobs elsewhere.

Teachers will be back on the picket line on Tuesday morning, and DCTA leaders will be back at the bargaining table with DPS at 10 a.m.

LINKS: Denver Classroom Teachers Association | Denver Public Schools Negotiation Updates

Karen Morfitt

  1. James Earley says:

    Small correction. Bonuses are not earned for good evaluations. That was true some years ago, but not for the previous 3 years, at least. The argument that the pay structure is too complicated is valid. Mistakes in pay were common in my school, and on my checks. I retired last year, and while I miss my school, and teaching, my one complaint was about the pay system.