“‘We need a transparent pay schedule from our district so we know what to expect and when, and how to budget accordingly,’ said Shawn Hann, a drama teacher at Denver School of the Arts. She said that the district’s current incentive-based pay system, ProComp, is unwieldy, with a complicated bonus system that leads to unpredictable paychecks.

Hann also claimed Denver teacher salaries aren’t keeping pace with the city’s skyrocketing cost of living. She has a master’s degree and has taught for 25 years, but hasn’t gotten a meaningful raise in ten years. She says she’s lucky enough to own a small house in Denver that she bought in 2003, but she now lives paycheck to paycheck. In 2017, the average salary for Colorado teachers was $51,808, which ranks 31st in the nation. According to USA Today, Colorado’s cost of living is the 19th highest.

Hann’s story isn’t unusual. Many teachers confessed to taking on multiple side jobs to support themselves, or having to rely on a higher-earning partner. Kahlea Qualls, a music teacher at Carson Elementary, works overnight shifts at a hotel to supplement her income. Meaghan Quigley lives almost an hour away from her job at Denver School of the Arts and never works fewer than 80 hours per week over the summer. Stacey O’Neil, who works at Slavens School, said that if not for her husband’s paycheck, she wouldn’t be able to support her kids.”
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