Dear Team DPS,
As we shared on Tuesday, the funding shortfall that our district faces due to the COVID crisis prompted us to reopen contract negotiations with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. Because of the economic fallout from the COVID crisis, DPS faces a $64 million budget gap from what was projected in January for next school year, and adjustments to our projected expenses are necessary for us to balance our budget.
Our discussions with DCTA began Tuesday morning, and I’m pleased to share with you that we have reached a tentative agreement Tuesday night on revised contract terms.
Under the tentative agreement, teachers would receive a guaranteed 0.5% cost-of-living salary increase on Aug. 1, 2020. And if Denver voters approve a mill-levy tax increase that is expected to be on the November 2020 ballot, that cost-of-living increase will go up by an additional 0.5% effective Jan. 1, 2021. In addition, teachers will receive their original, contractual salary increases for years of service (“steps”) and for earning advanced academic degrees (“lanes”).
I’m so grateful to our educators for the dedication and adaptability you’ve shown over the past several months, and I’m pleased our strong partnership with DCTA has continued. There was a sense of shared purpose and collaboration that carried through the discussions today, and that got us to an agreement quickly.
Our overriding priority in getting through this budget challenge has been to continue investing in our greatest strength – our people, in all roles, all across our city.
From the start of our budget discussions and throughout the conversations with the Budget Advisory Committee, we have been focused on avoiding layoffs and directing as much of our resources as we can to our schools, to our classrooms, and to our workers at the low end of the salary scale. And a crucial factor in helping us deal with a major funding cut has been our strong financial management. Having a solid backup of reserve funds, created by efficient cost controls and tight fiscal oversight, has been absolutely critical in getting us through this with limited impact on service and no layoffs.
In addition to the salary terms, there are some work-calendar adjustments for teachers in the tentative agreement for next school year. An additional planning day before the start of the school year would be added to the calendar to allow for more preparation for adjustments related to COVID-19. This work day would be funded with federal CARES Act dollars. And there would be one teacher-planning day during the school year removed from the teachers’ work calendar. All teachers and specialized service providers will also receive a one-time stipend in October equivalent to 8 hours at the average DCTA bargaining unit member's rate of pay for efforts related to necessary student support because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tentative agreement needs to be approved by the Denver Board of Education and DCTA membership. Those votes are expected in the coming days. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the full, proposed DPS 2020-21 budget on June 29. Read a copy of the tentative agreement.
I want to say again how much I appreciate all of Team DPS coming together and keeping us strong through these past few months. We will continue to update you in the coming days on our final budget and our continued planning for next school year.
Thank you, and please take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.