Denver teachers, school district reach deal to end strike

(Adds comment from district, details, background)

By Keith Coffman

DENVER, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Denver teachers and school district officials reached an agreement early on Thursday after an all-night bargaining session to end a strike that disrupted classes for 92,000 students this week, the union said.

Although the agreement must be ratified by a majority of its members to take effect, teachers may return to classes as early as Thursday, the union said in a statement issued before the start of the school day.

"This agreement is a win, plain and simple: for our students; for our educators; and for our communities," Denver Classroom Teachers Association President (DCTA) Henry Roman, an elementary school teacher, said in the statement.

The marathon negotiating session, which began on Wednesday morning, ended with a deal that overhauls a pay system, known as ProComp, that teachers and the Denver Public Schools district had criticized as unpredictable, the union said.

RELATED: Oklahoma, Kentucky teachers walk out over pay

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Oklahoma, Kentucky teachers walk out over pay
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Oklahoma, Kentucky teachers walk out over pay
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 2: Elvin Lee, a teacher from Lawton, Oklahoma joints the teachers' rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Last week, Gov. Mary Fallin said teachers should come to the capitol to thank her for the raise. Thousands of teachers and supporters are scheduled to rally Monday at the state Capitol calling for higher wages and increased school funding. Teachers are walking off the job after a $6,100 pay raise was rushed through the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
Thousands of Kentucky school teachers marched Monday, April 2, 2018 from the Kentucky Education Association's headquarters to the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. to protest legislative changes to their pensions and education cuts. Public schools in all 120 Kentucky counties were closed Monday, either to join in the protest or because of spring break. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
Oklahoma teachers rally outside the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill outside the senate chambers at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 2: Natalie Armstrong (left) and her two daughters Payton and Payzlyn, along with her mother Katrina Sinor rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Thousands of teachers and supporters are scheduled to rally Monday at the state Capitol calling for higher wages and better school funding. Armstrong said she has spent $3,000 this year for school supplies Teachers are walking off the job after a $6,100 pay raise was rushed through the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 2: Oklahoma teachers rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Thousands of teachers and supporters are scheduled to rally Monday at the state Capitol calling for higher wages and better school funding. Teachers are walking off the job after a $6,100 pay raise was rushed through the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
Thousands of Kentucky teachers rallied at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. on Monday, April 2, 2018. (Alex Slitz/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill outside the senate chambers at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
FRANKFORT, KY - APRIL 2: Public school teachers and their supporters protest against a pension reform bill outside the senate chambers at the Kentucky State Capitol April 2, 2018 in Frankfort, Kentucky. The teachers are calling for higher wages and are demanding that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin veto a bill that overhauls their pension plan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
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"We're pleased to share that DPS and the DCTA reached a tentative agreement on a new ProComp contract at about 6 a.m. on Thursday after negotiating through the night," the school district said in a statement on Twitter and Facebook, using the acronym for Denver Public Schools.

All 207 Denver public schools will hold classes on Thursday, except prekindergarten, the district said. Schools have been staffed by substitute teachers and administrators throughout the strike.

The walkout, the first teachers' strike in Colorado's largest city since 1994, began on Monday after 15 months of contract talks broke down.

It followed a wave of teacher walkouts in Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia last year and a six-day strike in Los Angeles that was settled last month.

The tentative agreement includes base pay increases of between 7 percent and 11 percent on a salary schedule that has 20 pay steps, along with cost of living increases in the second and third years of the agreement, the union said. More details will be posted later, it said.

ProComp, or Professional Compensation, had been criticized by the union, as well as by schools Superintendent Anna Cordova, as offering unpredictable bonuses based on shifting criteria and resources. As a result, the union said many teachers were leaving Denver because their compensation failed to keep pace with the city's cost of living.

Both sides pledged to work more collaboratively throughout the term of the contract.

"This is actually the kind of conversation that we should be having all the time," Cordova said on Wednesday during negotiations that were livestreamed over the internet in a highly unusual move. (Reporting and writing by Peter Szekely in New York and Keith Coffman in Denver; additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

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