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Backers of public negotiations initiative turn in signatures

Supporters of a ballot measure that would require school district labor negotiations to be held in public have turned in 127,328 signatures to get the proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot.

What’s currently called Initiative 124 would change state law on executive sessions to require that contract negotiations between school boards – and district administrators representing boards – and labor unions be open to the public.

The proposal is being pushed by Jon Caldara and Mike Krause of the right-leaning Independence Institute. But open negotiations long have been a goal of some Republican officeholders and conservative school board members, and the idea is strongly opposed by unions like the Colorado Education Association.

The committee supporting the proposal, Sunshine on Government, had raised no money as of the most recent reporting deadline, which was last Friday. The opposition group Local Choices, Local Schools has raised $10,100, $10,000 of that from CEA.

The majority of Colorado’s 178 school districts don’t have collective bargaining agreements with teachers or other employee groups. But union contracts are common in the largest urban and suburban districts that enroll the majority of the state’s children.

Initiative 124 needs 86,105 valid signatures of registered voters to be placed on the ballot. The Department of State has 30 days to review the group’s petitions and determine if that requirement has been met.

If certified for the ballot would be second education-related issue on the ballot. A proposed constitutional amendment that would allow opening a casino in Arapahoe County, with some revenues earmarked for school districts, already has been certified as Amendment 68 (details here).

Read full text of open-meetings proposal here.

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