Bonus Pay System For Denver Teachers Needs Overhaul, Report Says

A new report suggests that Denver’s bonus pay system for public school teachers has mixed results and should be overhauled.

The non-profit education think tank A+ Colorado says research can't prove Denver’s decade-old ProComp system has helped increase student achievement. The report also says pay is only slightly different than it would be under a more traditional salary schedule.

Giving teachers’ salary increases earlier in their careers could help Denver retain more teachers, said the think thank's CEO Van Schoales. The district loses half its teachers in the first three years.

"Under our proposed model, there’s a greater range of salaries and the gains are greater earlier on," Schoales said.

A new system should also offer a $10,000 bonus for those working in high-needs schools, Schoales said. Such pay raises would help younger teachers cope with high costs of living in Denver, he said.

In a joint statement to teachers, district Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said some of the report’s recommendations echo what DPS has heard from teachers and discussed with them already.

The district and union said tying compensation to a teacher’s performance has always been part of the system since voters in 2005 approved a $25 million annual property tax increase to fund it.

As far as bumping up that amount tied to performance, the letter to teachers says, “the devil is in the details."

Both sides must negotiate a new ProComp contract by Dec. 17.