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Jeffco union president explains lawsuit on compensation plan

That’s the crux of why the Jefferson County Education Association filed a lawsuit to block the rollout of a new compensation system for teachers and specialists joining the suburban school district in the fall.

We shared news about the lawsuit via Complete Colorado in our morning headline roundup, Rise and Shine, and newsletter.

Complete Colorado is funded by the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank and advocacy organization that backed Proposition 104. That measure, which Coloradans overwhelmingly approved, requires school districts and teacher unions to bargain in public.

The article correctly points out that all five school board members approved a pay bump for new hires with masters degrees, who are specialists, and teachers who are hired at high-needs schools. And that Amy Weber, the district’s chief human resource officer, urged the board to address the discrepancy between current and Jeffco educators.

However, union representatives who reached out to Chalkbeat took offense at some of the article’s claims including that the union has created anonymous Twitter accounts to stir the digital pot and has encouraged public disruptions at board meetings. Those claims lack evidence.

“We have not supported board meeting disruptions, many of those were done by the students,” said Lynea Hansen, a spokeswoman for JCEA. “We actually do rallies outside the building.”

The union and the school district resumed open negotiation meetings in public this week after several “small group” meetings behind closed doors.

The focus of those sessions was to discuss priorities around teacher evaluations, school level autonomy, compensation, and educating the whole the child.

Here’s Ford’s statement about the lawsuit in full:

This week we filed for a temporary injunction to prevent the district from violating the Negotiated Agreement between the District and everyone protected under this agreement. The injunction will prevent the Jeffco School District from implementing changes to the teacher compensation structure unilaterally.

In March, the District unilaterally changed the salary structure for new teachers who would be coming into the district. This non-negotiated salary structure will result in teachers new to Jeffco making thousands of dollars more than current Jeffco teachers with comparable education and experience.

As an example, a current Jeffco teacher with a master’s degree and five years of experience makes $38,000 and under the District’s new plan a brand new teacher to the district with the same qualifications will make $48,017.

This inequitable new salary structure will punish our loyal Jeffco teachers who have been with the district for years. The same teachers who agreed to pay freezes and roll backs during the recession to help the district balance their budget and keep cuts away from students as much as possible.

The Jeffco School District and the School Board Majority cannot continue to undervalue our Jeffco teachers if they want to continue our tradition of excellence in educating Jeffco’ s children.

The Jeffco School Board promised to improve pay when the recession ended if we would defer our salary increases during the recession, and they have reneged on that promise time and time again. Now, the School Board Majority are going to give large raises to new employees and leave current employees out.

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