"We're going to make sure we have guest teachers, licensed DPS staff and other DPS personnel who've all gone through the required background checks to be in our schools, in our schools for supervision", Denver Public School Superintendent Susanna Cordova told CPR News.
Striking teachers picketed outside of schools and marched through Denver's streets Monday as vehicle horns blared in support of the latest US walkout amid a swell of educator activism in at least a half-dozen states over the past year. "Red pen" teachers have been marching every weekend across France, Tunisian teachers have been on strike since October, New Zealand primary school teachers are threatening to resume their walkouts and similar struggles have erupted on virtually every continent over the course of the past year.
The Post reported that all of the district's schools were open and staffed by substitutes Monday morning, while 2,100 teachers called in absent.
"By us doing this we finally became united", he said, marching with fellow teachers, members of other unions and students.
But the walkout was put on hold because the school district asked the state to intervene.
The Los Angeles teachers ended up getting the same 6 percent raise offered early on by the nation's second-largest school district.
The fundamental disagreement concerns how base pay is calculated. The city is notoriously expensive, but the state-long a stronghold of Democratic Party politics-is presently 39th in per-pupil spending with teachers' pay ranked 50th in the country compared to other college-educated workers, with median salary at $52,480.
In Denver, the dispute is over the school district's incentive-based pay system.
Denver East High School students are seen jumping up and down, chanting and roaming the hallways in video captured by junior Elena Katz, obtained by The Denver Post Monday.
Both sides agree that the pay system needs to be simplified.
The main issue teachers are striking over is a compensation system which they say favors giving out incentives over base pay, making it hard for the district to attract and retain qualified educators.
The DCTA union, which represents most of Denver's teachers, said 93% of its members voted to authorize a strike. Teachers say the reliance on bonuses leads to high turnover, which they say hurts students, and that spending money on smaller class sizes and adding support staff, like counselors, is the best way to help disadvantaged students.
- An increased starting salary of $45,800 for new teachers. "The freakish proposal proves what we have said during this entire process, that DPS is not interested in listening to the concerns and needs of its teachers and special service providers". "We presented an updated proposal that responds to what we have heard from teachers. and significantly increases the base pay for teachers".
About 300 substitutes have been hired, and about 1,400 central office staffers have been re-assigned to schools, Alejo said.
The Democrat also says school districts must do a better job at ensuring tax dollars go to the classroom and not administrative overhead.
The strike affecting about 71,000 students in the school district comes about a year after West Virginia teachers launched the national "Red4Ed" movement with a nine-day strike in which they won 5 percent pay raises.