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Aurora school board to Munn: Work with union to pay teachers at struggling elementary school

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn.
Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn.
Nicholas Garcia

AURORA — The school board here Tuesday night told Superintendent Rico Munn to clean up the “disaster” he created by boosting pay for teachers at one of the district’s most at-risk elementary schools without first getting the blessing of the teachers union.

On a 6-1 vote, the school board accepted the decision of an independent arbitrator that found the Aurora Public Schools administration violated its collective bargaining agreement with the Aurora Education Association when it gave teachers at Paris Elementary a bump in pay.

School board president JulieMarie Shepherd was the lone board member to stick by Munn.

The school board then unanimously directed Munn to bargain with the teachers union to ensure the staff members at Paris receives the pay they were promised.

“My intent is you complete payment however it looks,” school board member Dan Jorgensen said.

Its unclear how Munn’s administration and the union will move forward on paying teachers.

As part of the original plan, Munn promised teachers at Paris a raise on two conditions — that they stay at Paris and maintain at least an effective rating on their annual evaluations.

Munn, explaining his rationale for linking the program to evaluations, told the school board on Tuesday that it would be difficult to explain to taxpayers why teachers rated ineffective were getting a bonus.

The Aurora Education Association said Tuesday it will not sign off any plan that links pay to evaluations.

Paris has suffered some of the district’s highest rates of teacher attrition for five years. Officials believe this is one reason why students chronically earn poor scores on the state’s standardized assessments.

Despite firing harsh criticism at Munn for the process, multiple board members did renew their support for the program.

“I agree with the two conditions. I like the effective piece. I don’t want to pay ineffective teachers per se,” said board member Amber Drevon. “… I would not consider this a discontinuation of the program. We like the program. AEA says they’re open to discussing it. All we’re saying is, ‘You don’t have to leave it. You don’t have to discontinue it. No, please pursue the idea. But pursue it together in a mutually agreed upon fashion.’”

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