On Day 2 of their strike, Denver teachers try to hash out a deal

"My pay has been too variable over the last several years," social studies teacher Nick Childers said.

Denver (CNN)Now that Denver Public Schools feels the impact of a huge strike, the teachers' union hopes the school district will make an offer it can't refuse.

After 15 months of talks went nowhere, teachers ditched classrooms for a second day Tuesday to go strike in the cold.
And even though this strike focuses on teachers' salaries, students joined them on the picket lines, saying their teachers deserve better.
Denver teachers want higher, stable base salaries -- not the unpredictable bonuses their school district uses each year to compensate for low base pay. "Our teacher retention has gotten completely out of hand," special education teacher John Haycraft said. "We cannot keep teachers from year to year to year."
    More than 2,600 teachers missed school on the first day of the strike, Denver Public Schools spokeswoman Anna Alejo said. That's about 56% of teachers from the district-run schools.
    To make up for the loss, about 1,400 central office staff members and 400 substitute teachers are trying to fill in for the missing teachers.
    Haycraft said he doesn't mind causing some trouble for the school district.
    "I think they need to show us they've made some serious hard choices and major, major cuts," he said. "In a sense, make life a little bit difficult for them -- the same way that it is for us."
    But this strike also has big financial consequences. For each day of the strike, Alejo said, "we estimate it could cost more than $400,000."
    That cost includes paying substitute teachers, providing strike curriculum and materials, and lost tuition from the district's preschools, which are closed during the strike.
    Denver Public Schools said it's made several offers to the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. But the union has rejected all of those offers.
    One teacher grew frustrated as the two sides negotiated in the basement of the Denver Public Library on Tuesday.
    "I feel like both parties are not realizing we are on Day 2 of a district-wide strike," said Kathryn Fleegal, an 8th grade science teacher. "Wish all this had been figured out a year ago"
    At one point later in the day, teachers shouted "hey hey ho ho these unfair wages have to go" as Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova took her seat at the bargaining table.

    What each side has put up

    Denver Public Schools says it has offered:
    • $23 million in new funds next year for teachers' base salaries. (That would increase the average teacher's salary from about $55,000 to $61,000.)
    • A total investment of $55 million over the next three years.