About DCTA Negotiations

  • 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:

    • Total teacher compensation is currently the largest slice of the DPS budget pie -- over $400 million per year. This total compensation includes salaries, all ProComp incentives, contributions to retirement benefits (PERA), medical benefits (including recent increases to subsidies), stipends for taking on leadership and coaching roles, the highest priority incentives for teachers serving our most impacted schools and extra-duty pay. DPS and DCTA are united in our mutual belief that we need to increase teacher compensation in order to pay our teachers as professionals and to keep them from being priced out of living in Denver. How we do that, however, is complicated when we are faced with the realities of Colorado's failure to adequately fund its schools.
    • Have you heard of the "negative factor"? This is the mechanism that the Colorado legislature uses to reduce funding to schools in the face of competing budget priorities. As a result of the negative factor, funding for DPS has failed to come close to keeping up with inflation; next year our funding will be more than $80 million (or roughly $1,000 per student) less than what we would receive had funding over the last seven years just kept up with inflation. 
    • Why is the Colorado economy booming and yet our schools are not being adequately funded? This is what you may have heard called the "Colorado paradox." The presentation shares the crippling impact of TABOR and the Gallagher amendment. Colorado funding for schools has gone from being at the national average in the 1980s to approximately $2,500 per student less than the national average today.
    • Within that context, DPS continues its efforts to push more money to schools and increase flexibility at the school level to meet the individual needs of each school. Thanks to the 2016 mill levy, more than $30 million additional dollars will be allocated to schools next year for resources such as expanded whole child supports and increased funding for our highest-need students. As a result, the amount of total budget spent on central administration will decrease from 5% to 4% in 2017-18.
    • Negotiations on compensation for 2017-18 will continue after we receive the final budget from the state legislature in May. DPS did share that implementing the current DCTA proposal to increase all teacher salaries by 25% (including a starting salary of $50,000) would require an investment of more than $100 million dollars. A result of this DCTA proposal would be the loss of more than 1,000 teacher jobs and a dramatic increase in class sizes, which we would not support.

    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

    DPS and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) continued negotiations last night on a wide range of topics. DPS brought proposals and counterproposals on twelve different articles of the contract; DCTA brought proposals or counterproposals on eighteen different articles. For almost five hours, the negotiators engaged in a thoughtful and productive discussion about some of the biggest challenges facing teachers, schools and the district, including planning time for teachers, class sizes, instructional support materials, leave rights and compensation for extra duty work.
    Next Steps: DPS and DCTA will continue to meet every other week for the rest of the year as we go back and forth on proposals. Once we have more information from the legislature on the state budget for next year (hopefully within the next month), we will begin to dive into the details of finances.

    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 communications@dpsk12.org.


    Negotiations Update, March 22: Article 10, LEAP Growth and Performance System and Student Discipline

    Teacher Evaluation Negotiations
    DPS and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) began discussing Article 10, the LEAP Growth and Performance System. We hope you’ll take a look at the DPS proposal and our LEAP Fact Sheet.  Your feedback is always welcomed and can be sent to communications@dpsk12.org
    DPS followed several guiding principles when writing this proposal. First, we want our contract with DCTA and our policies on LEAP to be clear and transparent for teachers.  
    Second, we want very robust and extensive contract language where high-stakes decisions are involved -- specifically, the performance improvement process and appeals of final ratings when a teacher may lose non-probationary status.
    Third, we want to ensure that our contract language and policies provide enough flexibility to allow continuous improvement to LEAP based on input from you. We only negotiate our agreement with DCTA every three years. For that reason, we added contract language about the "LEAP Fairness Guide." This is a resource guide published every year for teachers ad school leaders that describes the entire evaluation process that teachers can expect to experience for that year and the rights that teachers have to raise and seek review of concerns associated with the evaluation process. 
    Fourth, we would like to ensure we have a structure to continuously guide our improvements of LEAP as well as the development of related tools and resources. It is important to us that teacher and school leader voice is at the cornerstone of this structure. With this in mind, we proposed a Personnel Performance Evaluation Council that would review the LEAP Fairness Guide every year and advise on ways to ensure that our evaluation system is fair, effective and credible.
    We encourage all teachers to review the current version of the LEAP Fairness Guide to understand their rights during the evaluation process.
    Student Discipline
    You may have heard concerns from DCTA about the Board of Education's resolution to move toward dramatically reducing or eliminating suspensions and expulsions for students in preschool through grade 3. This concern come from a part of our agreement with DCTA that says any amendments to our JK and JK-R discipline policies will include collaboration from DCTA. We want to assure teachers, again, that there have been no changes to these board policies. Instead, we have launched a 60-day feedback period and hope to hear from you. To learn more about feedback opportunities, please visit this link.

    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 DPSIn 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:

    • Changing insurance carriers to get lower rates.
    • Boosting our wellness programs.
    • Moving to Consumer-Driven High Deductible or CDHP plans. 

    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.

    Retention Bonuses

    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.