Denver Public Schools staff fight for living wage

Teachers don’t get paid enough. Much of the school staff parents haven’t met get paid even less, but they’re just as important. Denver Public Schools paraprofessionals, maintenance staff, nutrition workers, and others who keep schools functioning want a $5 raise. 

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CBS

Many say they’re barely making enough to get by. 

These workers met at DPS headquarters Tuesday to rally, asking the district to meet their union demands and pay them at least $20 per hour. 

“Fifteen dollars and 87 cents per hour is not enough to live with dignity in Denver,” said a spokesperson for Coloradans for the Common Good. “It is also not enough to retain a workforce that brings joy to students and keeps families in our public school system.”

Wage negotiations are underway. 

Tuesday, DPS called their proposal to increase minimum wage the “Road to $20”

Their suggested wage increase plan would take place over the next three years. 

In 2022, wages would increase to $16.75

In 2023, wages would increase to $17.75

In 2024, wages would increase to $20

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When Tay Anderson, VP of the DPS Board, was a paraprofessional, he earned $12.87 per hour. 

He wants their wages increased. 

“We’re asking people to come to work for $15 an hour and pay $5 a gallon for gas, ” said Anderson. “If we have not reached a deal where $20 an hour has been agreed upon, I’m ready to reintroduce an executive limitation to immediately raise wages to $20 an hour.”

He goes on to say that DPS can and will be better than this. 

“Our educators should never have to worry about basic needs being met such as gas, food or lights,” said Anderson. DPS Board President Sochi Gaytán also says they deserve higher pay. 

Anderson told CBS4 he’s heard from DPS workers who say they’ll leave their positions without a pay increase. 

Paraprofessionals like Carolina Galvana don’t want to leave the district, but the rising cost of living might leave her no choice. 

“The necessities are getting more expensive every day; cars, food, everything is so expensive. Healthcare is so expensive,” said Galvana. 

She’s been with DPS for 13 years. 

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(credit: CBS)

Retailers and fast food restaurants are offering higher wages, but her heart is in the classroom. 

“We take care of the kids. We teach them, we nurture them, we give them love,” said Galvana. “Teaching kids is my passion and I always dreamed of it since I was a little kid.”

Workers like Galvana aren’t satisfied with making $20 an hour three years from now. 

They’ll come back to the bargaining table with DPS again on July 19. 

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