I can no longer tolerate the actions/policies of this school board. I have accepted a job teaching at Monarch High School.
– Chuck Stephen, former Lakewood HS band & orchestra teacher
From the beginning of negotiations with the district, our Teacher Association, JCEA, has been seeking stability and certainty. The best way to have a highly qualified teacher in a classroom is to have a career path for teachers that encourages them to develop their skills, live in their communities in which they teach, and impact the “whole child.” This includes not just teaching core subjects, but also electives, clubs, sports, and more. To that end, the association has been negotiating in good faith since March with designated district staff. Little progress had been made until recently due to uncertainty over budgets. Now that that has been settled (through another 3-2 vote by our WNW triad of doom), here are some salient points:
- Teachers with less than or 6 years of experience will receive a pay bump so that their salaries are in line with a new salary schedule for new hires that increases starting pay to $38K and increases 2% a year. Details can be found here.
- Master’s degrees previously earned after 2012, but not compensated for will be caught up.
- Hard to fill positions will get some additional money to aid hiring.
- All other employees will see an approximately 1% increase, depending on their performance rating.
This plan is ONLY in place for the 2015-2016 school year, and there is no agreement on anything else going forward. As for the certainty that the association is seeking, there is still none.
Now that negotiations are down to four scheduled days (June 29-July 2), it is looking increasingly likely that no agreement will be reached unless more days are added to negotiations. Many of the open items are the ones that impact whether teachers have certainty in their future career options in Jeffco, such as:
- District-proposed contract expiration of June 30, 2016, an echo of DougCo’s plan to crush their association.
- No salary schedule or compensation plan beyond the 2015-16 school year.
- No agreed-upon plan regarding how school principals will decide about displacement if staffing needs to change.
- No plan for the use of buildings by the association, or even for the role of a JCEA president.
- Completely open-ended questions on education of the “whole child,” electives, counselors, librarians, etc.
- Class sizes (which, of course is a big budget driver)
Chalkbeat has posted many of the documents being negotiated, with “red line” versions available too (scroll past the first part of the article to view them).
Given that the board’s plan was to negotiate from a blank sheet of paper, they have done a good job of making clear their priorities. Their only priority seemingly was, up to a week ago, to get their new hire salary schedule approved. Now that they have gotten what they wanted, it is clear that any other contract terms are going to be hard-fought for the association.
If we want teachers to not quit the district (more 600 last year, and more than 700 already this year), we need a contract that gives them reasons to stay, with reasons including everything from salary to professional development to respect for what they do for the community. It is in the interest of the community to have happy teachers because they’re working environment is the student’s learning environment. The association has repeatedly made clear their desire for a contract is NOT to protect bad teachers. That is a red herring that has NO basis in facts on the ground. Watch the negotiations if you have time, so you can see for yourself.