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Jeffco union agrees to teacher pay plan for next school year

GOLDEN — The Jefferson County teachers union Monday afternoon agreed to a pay plan that will allow the school district to move forward with hiring teachers for the fall.

The plan, which totals $6.4 million, will adjust salary for more than 1,000 district veterans with up to six years of experience to be equal to what the Jeffco Public Schools wants to pay new teachers in order to be competitive with neighboring districts.

Another 4,400 Jeffco teachers will receive on average a 1 percent raise. Teachers rated highly effective will earn a slightly higher raise than those rated effective.

Under the proposed plan, teachers in their first three years who are rated partly-effective would also receive a nominal raise. But teachers with more than three years of experience who are rated less-than-effective will not receive a raise.

The plan also gives raises to Jeffco teachers who earned an advanced degree since 2012, when the district stopped compensating for those additional credentials.

The agreement breaks a stalemate between the school district and the Jefferson County Education Association that made it difficult for the district to hire for 300 vacant teaching positions in the district.

The district has been under a court-ordered injunction not to use a compensation system it had developed without the input of the JCEA.

JCEA executive director Lisa Elliott said her members’ agreement to the plan was reluctant.

“What I’m struggling with is this 1 percent [raise],” she said. “The rise in the cost-of-living in the Denver-metro area is much more than that. So this is another year of flat to negative earnings for teachers in Jeffco. I want to be really clear that this 1 percent is not going to solve your problem of attracting and retaining.”

The total amount allocated for compensation increases for all district employees next year will be about $16 million. About $7 million of that amount is allocated to mandatory increases to pensions and health insurance.

The agreement between JCEA and Jeffco comes after the school board last week agreed to add an additional $2.5 million to pay increases. That money allowed the district to offer pay increases to all teachers who had a qualifying rating on his or her annual evaluations.

With compensation for next year settled, the district and union will return to negotiating specific language for a new teacher contract. Last week, the district sent the union a draft of a contract to use as a way to discuss specific topics. On Monday, the union provided edits and alternative language.

Among the union’s proposed changes: adding back mandated classroom sizes, extending the contract’s duration to four years as it has been for the last 25 years, and proposing one joint union-district collaboration committee.

Another element missing from the contract, Elliott said, is specific language about how teachers will be paid moving forward. The Jeffco school board, last fall, abolished the district’s salary schedule that outlined teacher pay raises based on years in the classroom.

“We have to have some kind of reliable system,” she said.

JCEA’s edits of district draft contract