Denver Public Schools staffer Myrna Zillalba helps a student while working on a laptop in a classroom in Newlon Elementary School on Aug. 25, 2020. (David Zalubowski, AP file photo)

The Denver teachers union and Denver Public Schools reached a tentative agreement that raises wages an average of 8.7%, sets starting salary a little above $50,000, and promises teachers more planning time during the work day.

The announcement of a deal Thursday comes after a marathon bargaining session between the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and district leaders that started Wednesday morning and concluded Thursday morning.

The previous contract, approved after the 2019 teachers strike, expired Wednesday. Students returned to the classroom Aug. 22.

Major sticking points in the negotiations included pay and caseloads for special service providers. The teachers union had proposed a 12% cost-of-living increase on top of planned raises teachers get for years of experience and education levels, known as steps and lanes. The district had proposed a 3.5% cost-of-living raise, with the average increase closer to 6.2% accounting for steps and lanes.

According to a district news release, returning teachers will see an average 8.7% increase. The deal will cost the district $40.5 million in teacher compensation in the first year. Starting salary will be set at $50,130 a year. The district plans to put an additional $2.5 million into covering health insurance costs.

Read more at Chalkbeat.org.

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Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat

Bureau Chief — Chalkbeat Colorado Email: emeltzer@chalkbeat.org