Denver Public School teachers really give back

The White House wants us to believe that the economy is on the mend, but teachers in the Denver Public School system aren't buying it. Why else would they agree to a midstream contract revision that reduces a 4.15 percent cost-of-living increase to 2.5 percent, with a 1.65 percent bump if the fiscal situation improves (which you can be damn sure it won't).

While teachers in the Boulder Valley School District continue to rattle their pointers about a possible strike, both sides in Denver are making nice, which DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg set to make his first-ever "State of the Schools" speech tonight at North High School and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association trying to make the current deal seem as positive as possible in a letter from the bargaining team to the system's 4,500 teachers. Sample the spin below:

A Letter From The Bargaining Team

Dear DCTA member,

The Bargaining Team has reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) and the DCTA Board of Directors has just reviewed and recommended this TA this evening. This TA will be presented to Rep Council tomorrow Tuesday, September 15th at 4:30 p.m. At this session we will be also distributing ballots for every member. We have met three essential criteria repeated within the comments from individual members and Rep Council via surveys. These included:

1. An increase in the amount of recurring salary;

2. Assurance that possible money returned to the district will be for teacher compensation;

3. Language that provides a stronger teacher voice with new teacher induction and collaborative training for School Leadership Teams.

1. Recurring Salary

There will be a 2.50% increase to salary (base building) retroactive to September 1, 2009 and a 2.50% increase to benefits (permanent) retroactive to July 1, 2009. This is an improvement from the district's original COLA proposal.

2. Assurances

If at any time, any action causes the rescission funds to return (past the 09-10 school year), then those funds would be used to fulfill the original agreement. More details about this contractual agreement will be provided at Rep Council tomorrow.

The financial agreement for the 2010-2011 school year remains unchanged unless altered by the process outlined in article 4-2 of the DCTA/DPS Agreement. These assurances guarantee that any money returned to the district must be used for teacher compensation.

3. Language that includes a stronger teacher voice regarding:

New Teacher Induction: This agreement, through the Professional Practices Work Group, adds to its charge the collaborative role between DPS and DCTA in new teacher induction, including the new teacher orientation day(s), with the piloting of approaches for the 2010-2011 teacher induction process. This directs DPS to collaboratively work with DCTA to support New Teachers.

Training for School Leadership Teams: This agreement creates a workgroup on collaborative leadership to develop recommendations for training and guidance to increase the effectiveness of SLT's. The group will deliver recommendations (by January 2010) for a pilot-training program to be implemented during the 2009-2010 school year. This directs DPS to develop training for School Leadership Teams that will effectively educate, communicate, and collaboratively implement the charge of the School Leadership Team as prescribed within Article 5 and 8 of the DPS/DCTA Agreement.

Sick Leave: Last but certainly not least, the tentative agreement amends the DPS/DCTA Agreement to include the term "domestic partner" within the sick leave language. Both bargaining teams felt that this term, which outlines a basic human right, could not wait until the next bargaining cycle to be amended.

We want to thank you for your continued support during these difficult times. In solidarity,

DCTA Bargaining Team

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts