Are Denver Teachers Next? Strike Set to Begin Next Week

by | February 8, 2019 AT 6:45 AM

By Saja Hindi

Representatives from Denver Public Schools and the district's teachers union have agreed to resume contract negotiations Friday evening, ahead of a strike that's planned to begin next week.

Bargaining is scheduled to run from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the district office building at 1617 S. Acoma St. in Denver.

Though the Denver Classroom Teachers Association has agreed to resume talks, it's also moving forward with its strike plans.

The union announced that it will hold a news conference at 6:30 a.m. Monday at South High School, 1700 E. Louisiana Ave. After that, from 7-9 a.m. Monday, educators are expected to picket at schools across Denver. A rally is scheduled to follow at 2 p.m. Monday on the west steps of the state Capitol.

The teachers union also plans to host food pantries to help families who are affected by the strike, and is accepting donations from 7 a.m. to noon at the following locations:

-- Northwest Denver: Denver Firefighters Local 858, 12 Lakeside Lane

-- Northeast Denver: IBEW Local 111, 5965 E. 39th Ave.

-- Southwest Denver: National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 47, 5151 W. First Ave.

-- Southeast Denver: Unite Here Local 23, 5303 E. Evans Ave., # 302

A letter from Denver Public Schools on Wednesday told parents that the district hopes to continue negotiations to "avert a strike" after Gov. Jared Polis declined to intervene. However, if the two sides are not able to reach an agreement, the strike will begin on Monday.

The Denver Board of Education held a news conference Thursday afternoon, with board president Anne Rowe reading from a statement about the board's goals and hope to avert a strike on Monday.

"As challenging and complex as this is, as your Board of Education, we want to affirm the voices of our educators and reaffirm our total commitment to an increase in pay for our teachers and special service providers," Rowe said.

The state's largest school district and its teachers union are about $8 million apart in their compensation proposals.

If a strike takes place, the school district plans to cancel all of its early childhood education classes, which affects more than 4,700 students. According to Chief Communications Officer Anna Alejo, the district isn't confident that it has the licensed support it needs to run the pre-school programs. However, because 71 percent of the students receive free and reduced lunch, she said students can still come to the school with a parent or guardian for breakfast and lunch.

She added that the cancelation of the early childhood education classes is one of the motivations for trying to reach an agreement with the teachers union over the weekend.

"We tried to get the union to meet today and they came back with tomorrow night, because we're trying to make the most of every single hour before Monday," she said.

Denver union officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The status of after-school programs and sports will be determined on a school-by-school basis, she said.

The district has hired 300 new substitutes to add to its pool of 1,200 active substitutes and 1,400 central office team members who will be sent to teach.

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