Denver Public Schools raises minimum wage for paraprofessionals to $20 per hour

Denver Public Schools announced Thursday that the district will begin paying paraprofessionals at least $20 per hour next month and that it plans to increase the minimum wage for all employees to that rate by the 2024-25 school year.

The wage hikes come after DPS employees and parents rallied this summer, asking the state’s largest school district to raise the minimum wage for its workers to $20 an hour.

“That was what we wanted,” said Carolina Galvan, a paraprofessional at Valdez Elementary, about the raises, adding, “Now we see that the district is really focusing on us.”

DPS previously paid paraprofessionals, who provide support in classrooms, $15.87 per hour, which employees said was not enough to make ends meet, especially amid inflation and soaring housing costs.

Paraprofessionals will also see incremental pay increases in the next two years as the minimum rises to $20.50 during the 2023-24 school year and to $21 in the 2024-25 academic year, Galvan said.

“They’re acknowledging that everything is getting expensive,” she said. “That’s like a cushion for us.”

DPS has reached separate 3-year agreements with four of the unions representing its bus drivers, mechanics, patrol officers, custodial staff, paraprofessionals and food service employees, according to the news release.

“Each of these agreements shows our commitment to our employees while allowing the district to stay within our budget,” said Edwin Hudson, chief of talent for the district, in a statement. “It also immediately raises the minimum wage for our paraprofessionals, which is something that we have been committed to.”

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