As many of you know, our contract with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) will expire at midnight tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 31, unless the parties reach agreement to renew and extend the contract. Although we are concerned about how far apart we remain on the extensive changes to the contract that the DCTA is seeking, we are fully committed to reaching agreement to renew the contract. We are entirely willing to renew and extend the language in the current contract.
Commitment to reaching a contract
We believe that we are a stronger district -- and one that can better recruit and retain teachers -- when DPS and DCTA are united in addressing the challenges that you, our teachers, face. Although negotiations can create tension in that relationship due to the tough nature of these conversations, we want to work closely with you to improve your experience in DPS. We are fully committed to ensuring that the rights and protections teachers currently have continue, and we believe that renewing and extending the contract is the best way to do that.
Commitment to increased compensation and improved health care benefits
Our compensation offer this year is the most generous in the metro area, with a 5.6% increase in our spending on teacher compensation -- what equates to an average raise of $3,000 per teacher. This includes:
For benefits, we have proposed decreasing the cost of any medical plan that covers children by $100/month or $1,200 a year.
If our offer is accepted, it will mean that over the most recent five years, our teachers will have received an average pay increase of almost $14,000 (or nearly 27% in total compensation).
Commitment to strongest teacher supports
We will continue the strongest set of teacher supports in the metro area, including:
Commitment to the Whole Child
We agree with DCTA that support for the Whole Child is essential. For that reason, we went to our voters last year to secure $15 million annually to expand our supports. This translates into schools hiring additional nurses, counselors, social workers and others in service of their students and families. It will also help maintain our leadership in the metro area of having the lowest student-to-teacher ratio and the strongest social-emotional supports for students. However, we recognize that there is so much more that we can do in this area and we would be happy to work with DCTA and our teachers on how to strengthen our whole child supports, including more paid teacher home visits, nutritious meals and physical exercise for students, and social, emotional, physical and mental health resources.
Learn more about our commitments to teachers here.
As we work through the final days of our negotiations, thank you for your continued dedication to Denver's kids. We hope our contract will be signed Aug. 31, and we know our work to provide the best schools for our students and supports for our staff will continue for years to come. We commit to working alongside you every step of the way.
Negotiations Update, May 30: Teacher Compensation Proposal
Negotiations Update, May 30: Teacher Compensation Proposal
We are excited to share with you a proposal about teacher compensation and planning time that we shared with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) at last night’s bargaining session. We also want to announce another important change about reducing the number of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs).
In our ongoing efforts to recruit and retain great teachers, we know that compensation is important. We are committed to continuing to be among the top three area school districts in teacher pay. We are also working to respond to your concerns about workload and the unique challenges that our educators face in our more highly impacted schools. Toward that end, we are proposing:
Increased Base Pay
Under our proposal, teachers on our traditional salary schedule would continue to get their steps, lanes and longevity. Teachers in the ProComp system would continue to receive all the incentives for which they qualify. Additionally, all teachers would receive a salary adjustment that will be paid as a flat $572 increase in base pay (on average a 1.04% increase). For example, if you are a teacher in ProComp with less than 14 years of service who completed a Professional Development Unit (PDU) and received a satisfactory evaluation this year, your base pay will increase by $2,205 next year. The District will also pay the additional 0.5% contribution increase required by statute to fund PERA. In total, this represents an average 3.3% increase in compensation for all teachers.
Expansion of Hard-to-Serve Incentives for all Title I Schools
In our ongoing efforts to recruit and retain great teachers, DPS is also committed to extending the ProComp Hard-to-Serve incentive ($2,600) to all district Title I schools and to all teachers, including those on the traditional salary schedule. The expansion of this incentive will be funded by the DPS general fund.
Through multiple workgroups with teachers, we have heard time and time again that we need to increase compensation for our schools with higher levels of poverty. Our current collectively bargained ProComp Hard-to-Serve incentive has arbitrary cut points that we have struggled with for some time. Many of you have been clear about your frustration with these cut points. For example, the current cut-off for elementary is set too high at 92% FRL, meaning that teachers in elementary schools with 90% FRL do not qualify for the incentive in its current form. The DPS proposal will extend the incentive to schools that have at least 60% FRL and qualify for Title I. Over 60% of our educators work in Title I schools. We believe that the creation of this new Title I Incentive is a necessary step to recognize your commitment to working in our highly impacted schools.
We also understand that areas of our district are gentrifying and that some of our schools have lost access to the Hard-to-Serve incentive when the school’s FRL levels have dipped below the current cut points. As you have clearly pointed out, your job remains as challenging as ever. We want to assure our teachers who have lost or were at risk of losing this incentive that this compensation will now be in place so long as your school remains a Title I school. We would also pro-rate the incentive on a monthly basis so that you can trust it as a guaranteed portion of your take-home pay. Additionally, if your school eventually moves from Title I to non-Title I, we would guarantee continued payment of the incentive for the three years after the change (100% of the incentive the first year, 66% the second year, 33% the third year).
Two More Planning Days for All Title I Schools
We have also heard from you and recognize that our schools with high levels of poverty face unique challenges that require unique solutions. Toward the end of providing targeted supports to our higher poverty schools, we are proposing two additional planning days for all Title I schools. In recognition of the fact that schedules are already set for 2017-18, these two days will be included for Title I schools starting in the 2018-19 school year. We hope that this additional time to plan together with your colleagues will help set you up for a successful year with your kids.
Title I Incentive to Increase in 2018-19
To compensate teachers in our Title I schools for the additional days and to recognize your commitment to our high-poverty schools, DPS also proposed increasing the Title I Incentive starting in 2018-19. Under our proposal, the new Title I Incentive would be increased to from $2,600 to $3,000 a year.
Only One SLO Required for LEAP Next Year
As a reminder, state law requires that we include “multiple measures” of student growth and that those measures must account for 50% of a teacher’s evaluation. Like other districts in Colorado, we must use SLOs as one of those measures because not all teachers have state assessment growth data to inform their evaluations. Based on your feedback, we are continuously working to improve your experience with LEAP and to ensure that the evaluation process is an effective growth tool for both you and your students. We know you are engaged in data-driven instruction and monitoring your students’ progress toward standards on a daily basis. A portion of this is captured in your SLOs. Yet, a number of you have told us that you do not find added value in having two SLOs. Therefore, in order to honor school-based data driven instruction practices, to find ways to reduce your workload, and to still ensure compliance with state requirements, we have decided to require only one SLO next year for LEAP. Those teachers who wish to continue to use two SLO’s are certainly free to do so. Please note that SSPs on the SSP GPS will still be required to do two SLOs (in order to meet the state law requirement for multiple measures) as well as teachers who have fewer than 10 students included in an SLO.
Commitment to Reaching Agreement with DCTA
Although negotiations continue with DCTA and some of our proposals may change as a result of those negotiations, we want to assure you that DPS and DCTA negotiators will be working diligently over the summer in order to reach agreement on the Master Agreement. We hope that by the time you return in August, we will have a signed agreement in place.
Have a wonderful and restful summer. Thank you for another great year with DPS!
Negotiations Update, May 3: Teacher Planning Time
In DPS, we know that planning time for teachers -- to plan their lessons, review and give feedback on student work, and talk with students -- is essential. It is important that teachers have both individual-planning time and team-planning time so that they can give their very best to their students during classroom time.
That is why five years ago, in partnership with DCTA, DPS dramatically expanded the amount of planning time, including self-directed instructional-planning time, for teachers. DPS is a leader in the metro Denver area in terms of guaranteeing the most protected time for teachers.This includes a 45-minute duty-free lunch every day and, in addition, at least 300 minutes of self-directed planning time per week for elementary/ECE-8 teachers and 345 minutes per week for secondary teachers. Click here to see how DPS compares to other districts.
In our conversations with educators from across the district, we have heard that you want the opportunity to decide what works best for your students, faculty and school. The proposal that we shared with DCTA on Monday night is designed to empower school communities to use the available time to meet the unique needs of each school. We propose giving schools greater flexibility to determine how they allocate their planning time, while still guaranteeing teachers the same amount of protected time. For example, schools could bank planning time over multiple weeks to allow for extended planning time during certain points in a six-week period or to enable modifications to the schedule such as a late start or early release. We also propose tasking the Instructional Issues Council, a joint body of educators with DCTA representation, to seek out creative solutions to share with our schools. Click here to view the DPS proposal (the markup indicates proposed changes to the current agreement).
We welcome your ideas and look forward to working with you to find innovative ways to maximize our time.
Negotiations Update, April 19: DPS and DCTA Discuss Teacher Compensation
DPS and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) met again on Monday night for negotiations. This week's topic was teacher compensation and the DPS financial team came to talk about the DPS budget forecast for the upcoming year. Their entire presentation can be reviewed on our bargaining website. Here are a few highlights:
We look forward to continuing to work with DCTA to simplify and improve ProComp. We hope to reach an agreement that: increases compensation for teachers in high-poverty schools (including an increase in the number of schools eligible for this incentive), provides more dollars in base salary over a teacher's career and a more predictable increase in base salary, and recognizes teachers' performance and the additional responsibilities they take on.
Negotiations Update, April 3: DPS, DCTA Exchange Proposals on Wide Number of Topics
We encourage you to access the new DPS bargaining webpage for DPS proposals and the DCTA bargaining page for DCTA proposals. As always, feedback on negotiations is welcomed and can be shared with email@example.com.
Negotiations Update, March 22: Article 10, LEAP Growth and Performance System and Student Discipline
Negotiations Update, March 15: Retention Incentives for Teachers at Amesse, Gilpin and Greenlee
We greatly value the retention of our teachers, especially when serving in some of our most challenging circumstances. So we are excited to share the good news that DCTA agreed on Friday to our offering retention incentives to teachers at Amesse, Gilpin and Greenlee elementary schools. Under the agreement, teachers at Amesse and Greenlee will receive $1,500 for staying at those schools through June 1, 2018. This will be paid in two installments: Half of the amount, or $750, will be paid in October and the other half in June 2018. Our goal with this bonus has always been to support and reward the choice to remain at Amesse and Greenlee, both schools undergoing restart or replacement, through the 2017-18 school year. We want to reward continued hard work and focus on students in this time of transition. In addition, teachers at Gilpin, which is closing after the current school year, will receive $1,000 for their continued service to the Gilpin community for the remainder of this school year.
Negotiations Update, March 1: What is DPS Doing to Control the Costs of Benefits?
Listening to Team DPS: In DPS, we use the Benefits Board, consisting of representatives from all bargaining units and the district, to determine how to manage these costs while providing the best options for our employees. To date, the Benefits Board has taken a number of steps to decrease insurance costs, such as:
But it's not enough. While most employees who elect major medical coverage for themselves pay nothing, employees who cover dependent children still pay too much. Even after the district added an additional subsidy to employees who cover dependent children, the cost of coverage is still too high.
So the Benefits Board is taking steps to encourage higher participation in our health plans by changing our flexible benefit credit model. DPS is the only local district that allows employees who waive major medical coverage to cash out their full benefit credit allowance, significantly decreasing the number of plan participants. In general, the more participants in the health benefit plan, the greater leverage to decrease the cost of the plans.
Most bargaining units voted to permit new employees hired after June 1 to access flexible benefits credits only if they participate in a DPS health care plan. This will result in members of these bargaining units paying $100 per month less to cover dependent children starting in July 2017. Unfortunately, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), as well as the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Facility Managers Association, did not elect to make this change for 2017-18.
Good News! More Benefit Plan Options
At the request of some employees, including the DCTA, the Benefits Board has voted to approve offering two deductible HMO plans, one from Kaiser and one from Denver Health Medical Plan, starting July 1. Please make sure to use the plan selector tool included in the on-line Open Enrollment program to determine if an HMO plan is right for you.
Negotiations Update, Feb. 15: Health Care Benefits and HMOs
We wanted to provide information about the possibility of again offering an HMO option for our employees. This year is the first year DPS has not offered an HMO option. Three years ago, our Benefits Board -- including representatives of all district bargaining units, such as the DCTA -- voted to eliminate the HMO option because employees were paying higher out-of-pocket costs than they were with high-deductible plans. Employees who chose HMO plans offered in 2014-15 and 2015-16 paid on average more, not less, in out-of-pocket costs.
As you may know, the DCTA is encouraging DPS to again offer the HMO option and we have agreed to take this to our Benefits Board on Thursday night. The district representatives on the Benefits Board support offering the HMO option. However, we encourage our employees to work closely with our benefits experts during the benefits renewal process to determine whether they are likely to experience higher or lower costs on an HMO plan.
What's Happening with "Flex Benefits"?
We've heard clearly from you that the cost of benefits at the family coverage level are too high. One way to bring these costs down is to increase the number of people talking our benefits. So as we mentioned in a previous Teacher Weekly, we are continuing to negotiate a change to our "flex" credits system, which annually costs us about $20 million for employees who don't sign up for a district benefits plan. This would affect new employees only and would align our district benefits system with others in the metro area. This change was approved by our Benefits Board. If DCTA agrees to this change, teachers will see a decrease of $100 per month in their insurance premiums for any medical plan that covers children. Please let DCTA know if you support this change!
Negotiations Update, Feb. 6: LEAP, Benefits and Retention Bonuses
We presented our proposal to address a concern we've heard from you -- our benefit costs are too high, particularly for employees with children. We are proposing a change to the practice of paying employees a benefits allowance (or flex dollars) even when they do not sign up for a district health plan. DPS now pays $22 million a year to employees that don't take DPS benefits.The change would apply to new employees only; current employees would experience no changes to their benefits allowance. Our commitment is to use the money saved to reduce benefits premiums for all employees. For next year, this would mean benefit plans that cover children would be $100 cheaper per month.This change would put us in line with other districts such as Cherry Creek, which began phasing out its benefits allowance for those who don't sign up for the district health care plan in 2006.
We have made it clear that we are committed to providing retention bonuses for teachers at Amesse, Gilpin and Greenlee. We want to honor the commitment of those educators who stay with our students and recognize the additional challenges that staying may bring. For teachers at Amesse and Greenlee, where new programs will begin in fall 2018, we are committed to providing a $1,500 retention bonus for staying through the 2017-18 school year. For teachers at Gilpin, which will close after the current school year, we are committed to providing a $1,000 retention bonus for staying through the end of the year. Negotiations continue, but we want to make it clear these amounts will be available. Read our latest proposal.
LEAP - Leading Effective Academic Performance
We were excited to start discussing how we can improve LEAP, our teacher growth and performance system. DPS first proposed including LEAP procedures in our master agreement in August 2015, and we are eager to discuss what guarantees we can provide teachers in our contract. We know we can't make the gains we need for our kids without providing you, our teachers, with the supports you need to grow as educators.
DPS Proposals (Mark-ups indicate proposed changes from current contract):
Article 30 - Benefits