DENVER – The union representing teachers and school officials on strike in Denver said they hoped to reach a settlement that would put an end to a three-day walkout. Negotiations resumed Wednesday after talks that continued until the night of Tuesday.
"We have exchanged proposals that bring us closer and hope that we will soon reach an agreement," according to a statement from union president Henry Roman and superintendent Susana Cordova.
Both parties need a "little more time" to resolve their differences.
The negotiations focused on how to modify a pay system to bring it closer to that of other districts, by making it easier for teachers to pay in terms of experience, education and training. Unlike recent sessions, there have been more discussions and exchanges. However, the two sides have not yet tackled a major problem: reducing premiums in order to be able to invest more in the basic salary of teachers.
The district provides incentives ranging from $ 1,500 to $ 3,000 per year for teachers working in schools with students from low-income families, high-priority schools, or positions considered to be difficult to occupy, such as schooling. special education or speech therapy. .
The union is striving to reduce or eliminate some of these premiums in order to free up more money that would be added to the overall compensation of teachers. The premium freeze point is the additional amount to be paid for teachers who work in conditions of high poverty and high priority, which the district sees as a way to help improve the educational outcomes of poor and minority students.
Teachers say that the use of bonuses leads to a high turnover rate, which is detrimental to students, and that spending money for fewer classes and recruiting support staff, such as counselors, is the best way to help disadvantaged students.
The district proposed to increase the salary of beginning teachers from $ 43,255 to $ 45,500 a year. That's $ 300 less per year than the union's proposal, which would add $ 50 million a year to teachers' base salary, according to union officials.
School district reports indicate that 58% of teachers did not go to work Tuesday, a little more than the first day of the strike on Monday.
The strike took place about a year after the launch of the national "Red4Ed" movement by teachers in West Virginia, who staged a nine-day strike during which they won a 5% wage increase. More recently, Los Angeles teachers staged a six-day strike last month.
There are 71,000 students in district-run schools. Another 21,000 are enrolled in charter schools not affected by the strike.
Associated Press authors P. Solomon Banda and James Anderson in Denver contributed to this report.