APS school board approves teacher union contract calling for 2% raises, longevity boost

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AURORA | School board members in Aurora Public Schools approved a teacher salary contract Tuesday night that will especially benefit more seasoned teachers during the 2019-2020 school year.

Board of Education members unanimously approved the contract in a bulk vote.

Negotiations took place for months between district officials and the Aurora Education Association teacher union to suss out how exactly teachers would be paid during the next school year.

In those negotiations, the AEA chose salary increases for teachers with more seniority instead of higher raises for all teachers. The decision will especially benefit about 60 percent of the district’s 2,300 teachers, according to the district.

The plan calls for all teachers to earn an approximate 2 percent salary raise. The approximately two-thirds of teachers who were working in the district several years ago will also recover a raise the district put off because of budget shortfalls.

That benefits teachers with at least four years of experience in the district.

In a plan the union rejected, all teachers would have received an almost 4 percent salary hike next year, and the proposal to hike more senior teachers would have been left out.

“I think this proposed contract has done a lot for those teachers who have been loyal to this district,” said AEA president Bruce Wilcox told Sentinel Colorado last week.

The new contract comes on the heels of a 3 percent salary raise that began in January for all teachers. A local voter-approved tax increase from last fall funded that raise.

Every year, the months-long salary negotiations with APS are a top concern for teachers, who say relatively high housing costs can prevent generally modestly-paid teachers from putting down roots in schools and classrooms.

Both teachers and board members have said raising pay for beginning teachers is important in order to attract talented educators to the district.

APS teachers, however, fear that their peers, whether they are experienced in the classroom or fresh out of college, will leave for other school systems with better pay. APS has the lowest average salary of the major metro school districts, although not by much.

The APS issue mirrored debates in other Denver metro school districts. Earlier this year, teachers in Denver Public Schools went on strike to demand higher pay for all teachers. They also aimed to overhaul the district’s system of paying bonuses for teachers with more education and experience or for working in struggling schools.

APS officials originally planned to revise the teacher salary schedule with the AEA by the end of June. That system determines pay by experience and academic credentials. Both parties say working to reform the scale is a gargantuan task and agreed to hold negotiations in the fall before a January 2020 deadline.

Wilcox said he is optimistic that those rounds of negotiations will be fruitful for not only teachers, but also manageable for a district that is expecting funding decreases because of declining enrollment.