Teachers union continues voting on possible Denver strike

Eagleton Elementary School first grade teacher Valerie Lovato, left, and East High School French teacher Tiffany Choi hold up signs as the Denver teachers union negotiates with district officials.

Denver teachers resume voting Tuesday evening on whether to go on strike, a decision that will touch tens of thousands of people in Colorado’s largest school district.

The vote comes after months of negotiations left Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association still $8 million apart and with serious philosophical disagreements about how teacher compensation should be structured. Denver teachers are riding a wave of activism by their peers across the country that began last year and continues to build. Teachers in Los Angeles just reached a tentative deal with their district after more than a week on strike.

The results of the Denver vote may not be released until early Wednesday morning, union officials have indicated. The earliest a strike could start would be Jan. 28. However, Denver Superintendent Susana Cordova has said she’ll ask for state intervention if the vote is yes, which could delay a strike.

A Denver strike would affect roughly 71,000 students in district-run schools. Cordova has pledged to keep schools open.

Members of the teachers union began voting on a strike Saturday, and union leaders have declined to release any information about turnout. District officials, meanwhile, went on the offensive over the weekend, making the argument that their offer was generous and responsive to longstanding teacher complaints about stagnant salaries.

The district also published its new salary schedule online alongside the salary schedules of other Denver metro area districts.

The two sides disagree on how much new money the district should put into teacher compensation and also on how that compensation should be structured. The district has said it will not compromise on offering bonuses to teachers at high-poverty and hard-to-serve schools. The union wants smaller bonuses and more money to go into base pay.

This would be the first teacher strike in Denver in 25 years.

This story will be updated.

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