DENVER (CBS4)- Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association ended the week unable to reach an agreement for a new contract that would have avoided a teachers strike. The two sides attempted to negotiate again Thursday night but ending the meeting early.
"It didn't do anything to fix the problem that we have right now which is teachers are leaving Denver and are students are suffering," said Rob Gould, a teacher in the district and the lead negotiator for the union said of the latest meeting. "If the district continues to go down the same road it's going, then the only thing we have left is the right to strike."
While the union said that the offer made on Thursday was not any different from what they saw in the past, the district says they keep returning to the table with more of what the DCTA is asking for in negotiations.
"When you're in negotiations, it's a give and take, we make move they make a move to try and find a common ground," said Mark Ferrandino, the CFO for the district and a member of DPS's negotiation team. "It's not just the amount of money but where does the money go."
The DCTA says part of the disagreement remains over an amount of roughly $8 million, which the union would like to see tied to base pay but the district wants in bonuses. Both sides continue to talk about what is happening at the district's Central Office as well. The union has called on more money to come from administrators but DPS says it is doing what is needed to make those cuts.
"Instead putting money into teacher compensation, they've expanded different departments," Gould said.
Since negotiations reached the final weeks at the beginning of the year, the discussion has focused on the size of the administration as well as how much each of those executives earn in annual salaries.
"It takes time to be able to invest, we are committed to 10 and a half million dollars in cuts from Central Office, over 100 positions cut," Ferrandino said.
Gould says as a parent, he is concerned about the possibility of a strike but believes this is the last resort the union must take to stop teachers from leaving the district at the current rate.
"We want parents and students to know we're working through the issues and we're trying to get to a place of settlement," he said.
The district has always maintained that the offer they're making is as much as they can do without reforming funding at the state level that can eventually be used to improve teacher pay. Both sides are preparing for a strike as the state decides if it will intervene and potentially delay the process by six months. An announcement is expected by Feb. 11. A strike could begin soon after if the state decides not to get involved in negotiations.
"Strike or no strike, we will get to a deal and it's in the best interest if we get to a deal before that strike occurs," Ferrandino said.
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