GOLDEN — The Jeffco Public Schools Board school board tossed out a tentative deal with its teachers union during Thursday night’s board meeting.
Board president Ken Witt said he could not endorse the deal because the agreement provided raises to an estimated 56 teachers who were rated “partly effective” on the district’s evaluation rubric.
The district will move to fact finding on the entire agreement. Fact finding is when both parties present facts to a third party that then makes recommendations on an agreement. The process will cost time, money and is non-binding, district staff advised the board.
The district’s budget that must be approved by June 30 will move forward.
“We will compensate our teachers,” board member John Newkirk said during board debate. “There will be the funds there to do this. But we need the language there that we asked for.”
The vote to reject the agreement was approved on a 3-2 vote, with the board majority rejecting the agreement. The vote came toward the end of a long school board meeting packed with some of the most controversial topics facing the suburban school district including the district’s budget and the new superintendent’s contract.
The board’s minority members Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman urged the board to approve the agreement to put the issue behind the district, which has been rife with skepticism and fear.
“We are not healing our community,” Dahlkemper said.
And teachers union representatives were disappointed in the outcome, as well.
“… [I]t does a disservice to the 85,000 Jefferson County public school kids and the hardworking educators of the district,” said JCEA President John Ford.
The tentative agreement between the Jefferson County Education Association and the district was signed last month. However, while the union sent the agreement to be ratified by its members, the district released a statement saying it wasn’t a done deal.
That’s because the board’s majority doesn’t want non-probationary teachers who are rated as partially effective to be eligible for a step increase, or a raise based on years in the classroom.
According to the district’s media release, the district’s negotiating team requested changes in the agreement a few hours after leaving the mediation session and before it was taken to the JCEA board.
The tentative agreement as outlined by the union included:
- An average of 2.5 percent increase for teachers who were not rated “ineffective;”
- Increased starting pay for new teachers;
- Health care kept constant for all employees in 2014-2015;
- Class size kept constant from this year’s levels; and
- A plan to work on a new compensation system for the 2015 – 2019 contract.
Earlier in the evening, the board was expected to enter an executive session to discuss the tentative agreement. However, due to board divisions, the five-member board could not muster enough votes needed, four, to go behind close doors.
In a separate vote the board did approve its tentative agreement with the district’s clerical union.