The Denver school board on Thursday ratified a contract that gives teachers the state’s highest starting salary of $ 30,000. Two members blasted the union for not being more willing to replace automatic salary increasess with performance raises.

‘The system we have in place now is a road map to bankruptcy,’ said Sue Edwards, who dissented along with Bennie Milliner.

The union ratified the pact earlier this month, but said it has no intention of abandoning salary steps despite its endorsement of pay-for-performance in principle.

Also Thursday, the board gave final approval to a toned-down bilingual education pilot program that, in its original version, could have conflicted with the district’s court-monitored English Language Acquisition program.

The federal government will give DPS $ 3.3 million, mainly for training hard-to-find bilingual teachers. But Sharon Macdonald voted no after noting that DPS – which faces a budget gap as high as $ 25 million next year – would have to chip in about $ 1 million. Part of that would be for substitutes when 40 teachers go to Mexico for two weeks to brush up on their Spanish and study the culture.

Another controversial feature of the pilot would be a ‘Spanish language literacy enrichment program.’

Students could be taught in Spanish only with their parents’ permission. But Milliner said any deviation from ELA will confuse students and increase costs.

‘I don’t believe that as a district we can be schizophrenic about this,’ he said.

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