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If Denver Public School teachers vote to strike, school nurses may follow suit

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DENVER — The Denver Classroom Teachers Association will resume its strike vote on Tuesday.

The teacher’s union has been trying to negotiate a new pay structure with DPS, but the two sides are still more than $8-million apart.

One of the major sticking points is bonus money.

The district wants to continue paying teachers, who work in “hard to place” schools,” more money.

The union wants those financial resources spread out, to build up the “base pay” of every teacher.

School Nurses

DPS nurses are covered by the teachers contract.

If teachers vote to strike, the nurses may follow suit.

“Each one covered by the contract has the option to strike or not to strike,” said Ellen Kelty, director of Student Equity and Opportunity, the department that oversees Nursing and Student Health Services. “They’re all going to have to make that decision for themselves. If they do choose to strike, we will work to make sure student health needs, in all our buildings, are covered.”

Kelty said DPS is looking at bringing in other nurses to help cover those who make go on strike.

When asked if they’ll be able to find enough nurses, Kelty replied, “We’re doing our best to find nurses to cover, yes, and to have delegation plans if we don’t have a nurse in every building at all times.”

She noted that not every school is currently staffed with a nurse five days a week.

Some just have a nurse one or two days a week.

Parent Reaction

Jason Casey, a parent with twin boys in Kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary School, said nurses play an important role.

“My boys have had to see the nurse 3 or 4 times this year,” he said. “They get a stomach ache at lunch. They fall on the playground. A kid pushes them into a rock.”

Casey said he won’t mind if the district places temporary substitute nurses in schools, but he doesn’t feel the same way about substitute teachers.

“I don’t think a substitute teacher can just step in the role of a teacher and just educate them the way I want them to be educated,” he said.

Batya Stepelman feels the same way.

“I have a small business,” she said, “but that is going to have to close down if the teachers do strike, but with that said, I am 100 percent in support of DCTA and teachers in Denver having a living wage.”

Stepelman, whose children are in the first and third grades at Teller Elementary School, said she worries that the situation could turn into “Lord of the Flies,” meaning some kids could get out of control, without their regular teachers in the classroom.

“Hopefully not,” she added, “but I’m not super comfortable sending my kids into a classroom where there is a skeletal staff.”

Voting

Tuesday’s voting will take place, from 4 to 9 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 1555 Grant Street.

Results are expected late Tuesday night, or early Wednesday morning.

If the vote is to strike, it will be Denver’s first teacher’s strike since October of 1994.



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