DENVER, CO – By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado. Negotiations grew more tense between the Denver teachers union and the district on Tuesday as the two sides struggled to find common ground over its pay-for-performance system.
Union and district officials appear to literally be at standstill. After a tense exchange before noon, district officials departed the room to regroup — and did not return to the negotiating table. Talks are scheduled to resume Thursday.
The day’s developments indicate that it may be growing more difficult for Denver to avoid a strike that would upend Colorado’s largest school district and add to a national wave of teacher activism.
On Tuesday morning, Denver Classroom Teachers Association representatives told district leaders that they want a traditional salary schedule, with "steps" corresponding to a teacher’s experience and longevity and "lanes" representing education. The district’s proposal, which would allow teachers who served 10 consecutive years to jump into the next lane, was unacceptable, the union said, and they don’t plan to budge.
"We need you to convert your structure to ours so we can move forward," said union bargaining representative Robert Gould.
Asked what kind of changes the union might still be open to, Gould responded, "You’re not listening. You’re not listening to what we’ve been saying for the last two weeks, you haven’t been listening to what we’ve been saying for the last two months, you haven’t been listening to what we’ve been saying the last year, nor the last five years. What we’ve been saying is, we need the structure to be our structure. Then we can move forward."
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