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Durango School District teachers, staff members agree to new contracts

Pandemic leads district to work out procedures for long-term school closures
Durango School District 9-R approved contracts and salary schedules on Tuesday for teachers and support staff members for the 2021-22 school year.

New procedures about how to handle extended school closures are part of the 2021-22 contracts for Durango School District 9-R teachers and support staff members.

The addition to the contracts to handle extended closures was added in light of the experience with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contracts were unanimously approved by the 9-R Board of Education on Tuesday night with the Durango Education Association, representing teachers, and the Durango Education Support Professionals Association, representing support staff members.

The new contracts require the superintendent to form a task force to guide the district’s response if schools are required to close for more than two weeks to in-person learning because of a “chronic incident,” something like the pandemic.

The task force would require representatives from both the teacher and support staff unions to be on the panel that comes up with procedures to handle any two-week or longer closure to in-person learning.

Teri Kopack, DEA lead negotiator, said the agreements also were approved unanimously, by teachers, but she added that “a lot of work remains” to reach a point where teachers can live sustainably in Durango.

Kopack also said it was beneficial to add a member of the school board to the negotiating team.

Kristin Smith, 9-R school board president, attended negotiating sessions to reach agreements with DEA and DESPA.

“It helps to ensure that things aren’t missed in translation,” Kopack said.

Teachers are grouped into three tiers, called phases, for compensation, Phase 1, 2 and 3.

Teachers move into different cells in each phase based on years of experience, educational level, special certifications, professional development, leadership development and other professional accomplishments.

Achieving higher levels in various educational and professional standards leads to points being awarded to teachers. With more points, a teacher moves higher in the salary schedule and also is able to move into higher phases.

A teacher in Cell A in Phase 1, a first-year teacher, will earn $41,000. The top teacher in Phase 1 will earn $47,000.

In Phase 2, teachers will earn between $51,000 and $71,000. In Phase 3, teachers’ salaries will range from $72,000 to $75,000.

The master agreement for teachers calls for 183 work days for the next school year.


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