DENVER – It is day two in the Denver teacher strike and school leaders and teachers are going back to the bargaining table as they try to reach an agreement.
Negotiations started Tuesday morning with the help of a federal mediator for the first time since talks turned south over the weekend.
The negotiating room at Denver’s main library was packed with teachers wearing red. They broke out into chants from the picket lines as school district administrators entered to start the contract discussions with union leaders.
Teachers are planning a march and rally downtown later in the day near the site of the talks.
The two sides in Denver disagree on pay increases and bonuses for teachers in high-poverty schools and other schools the district prioritizes.
Teachers want lower bonuses to free up money for better overall salaries.
The strike started Monday and all schools have remained open. They are staffed by administrators, substitutes, and teachers not participating in the strike.
The school district says preliminary reports show over 50% of teachers stayed out of district-run schools on Tuesday, slightly more than on the first day of the strike Monday.
The strike is affecting about 71,000 Denver students.
Another 21,000 are enrolled in charter schools unaffected by the strike.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock says the city’s striking teachers deserve better pay.
He took to Twitter Monday offering “all the resources at my disposal” to help teachers and the school district reach an agreement and end the walkout.
Our teachers deserve better pay and a better quality of life. They are the lifeline of our education system and the bridge to our future. I’ve offered all the resources at my disposal to work with both sides to create trust and move towards a resolution. #DenverTeacherStrike
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) February 11, 2019
For parents who chose to keep their children home from school during the strike, all Denver Public Library locations will open at 10 a.m. every day to offer active and passive programs to keep students engaged. Libraries will also provide meals and snacks as needed.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)