Denver teachers protest pay cut, fuel study shows impact on lead in blood

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    05_16_2024_am_headlines Greta Kerkhoff

Denver teachers demonstrate over pay

A contract dispute between the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and Denver Public Schools (DPS) led to protests in front of DPS headquarters this week. About 100 educators protested outside the building, while a Board of Education meeting inside hosted public comment.

The teachers’ union alleges that the district is breaking their 2022 contract. This agreement pledged to give educators a 5.2% cost-of-living raise annually, as part of a total 8.34% annual raise.

This year DPS is only offering a 2.06% cost-of-living raise for the 2024/25 school year, amounting to 5.2% total pay increase.

According to the Denver Post, DPS says state lawmakers are withholding the full raise percentages due to unavoidable budget shortfalls associated with the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, the district announced Friday that it has reached a tentative three-year contract with the Denver School Leaders Association, which includes a 4.5% cost-of-living raise in the first year for principals and other school administrators.

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New Colorado school-funding formula

The Colorado Legislature passed an overhaul of school funding that begins incrementally in the 2025-2026 school year. Legislators changed the formula to support needier school districts, however all school districts will continue to get support at a minimum of their current level.

Tanya Mares Kelly-Bowry, a lobbyist for the Boulder Valley School District, says the bill doesn’t provide predictability for school districts to budget according to the Daily Camera.

Eventually, the new formula will lead to a $500 million (dollar) increase in school funding statewide. The increase will be in addition to current funds that are sourced through a mix of local property taxes and state funding.

The new formula will provide more state support in part to school districts with more students experiencing poverty and with more English-learning students.

Districts such as Boulder that have had a surge of students migrating from out of the country will also receive additional funding from the state budget. According to the Daily Camera, BVSD will receive $700,000 of the one-time funding of $24 million to support newly arrived students.

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Aviation study shows danger of leaded fuel

A new study by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows that children living near airports have higher amounts of lead in their blood.

The study looked at those under age 18 living within 5 miles of an airport according to the Colorado Sun.

The bill funds airport’s use of unleaded fuel and helps pilots pay for plane upgrades that would allow the use of unleaded fuel.

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Wolverines to potentially be reintroduced

Colorado legislators have passed a new bill authorizing the reintroduction of wolverines into the Colorado wilderness.

According to experts, fewer than 400 wolverines remain in the US, and Colorado’s high country could be a perfect habitat for this endangered species to thrive again.

According to Fox 31, if Gov. Polis signs the new bill, Colorado Parks and Wildlife can’t reintroduce wolverines until they are reclassified from a threatened and endangered species to a “nonessential experimental population” under federal law.

The bill also states that compensation must be given to any livestock owners that suffer loss of livestock caused by wolverines.

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The Denver Police Department to restrict low-level traffic stops

The Denver Police Department (DPD) is cutting down on low-level offense traffic stops. Minor violations, like expired registration tags, failing to use a turn signal, or headlights and tail lights which are not fully functioning will not be enforced as rigorously.

According to Axios Denver, Denver PD says the cuts will help with short staffing, police response, and racial profiling. Studies show Denver police arrest people of color at disproportionate rates.

DPD will continue to make traffic stops for any drivers who threaten public safety, such as speeding and reckless driving. Low-level offenses may still be punished if drivers are pulled over for additional safety concerns.

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Denver restructures homeless shelter contracts

The Denver City Council has approved an $8 million contract to support family sheltering services. According to the Denver Gazette, the city council approved the contract with the Salvation Army on Monday and will also help support the Tamarac Family Shelter.

The Salvation Army has received $274 million from city contracts since 2021, however the operation of their shelters has come into question with frequent reports of gun violence, drug use, and other violent crimes.

The council also approved $12 million dollars for rental assistance expansion.

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Greta Kerkhoff

Greta Kerkhoff

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