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Jeffco, teachers union reach tentative five-year deal

Wheat Ridge High School history teacher Stephanie Rossi, left, and lawyer for Jeffco Public Schools Jim Branum  discussed the county's teacher contract in 2015.
Wheat Ridge High School history teacher Stephanie Rossi, left, and lawyer for Jeffco Public Schools Jim Branum discussed the county's teacher contract in 2015.
Gabriel Christus/Evergreen Newspapers

Jeffco Public Schools and its teachers union have agreed to a contract that is more to the union’s liking than the previous deal approved by a conservative board majority ousted in a November recall.

The five-year deal, announced Wednesday, includes more than $20 million in one-time and ongoing raises.

The contract comes after the contentious Jefferson County school board election that included the recall of three school board members who changed the way teachers were paid. Replacing Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk were candidates backed by the Jefferson County Education Association.

Witt, Williams and Newkirk increased teacher pay — especially for first-year teachers. But they also did away with the traditional approach of awarding raises based on experience and education, instead basing them on evaluations.

The teachers union felt the school board made the changes without its input. During the last contract negotiations under the previous board, the union sued the district and a strike was floated as a possibility.

Contract negotiations were less contentious this year.

The previous salary schedule based on teachers’ service time and education level is back in the new contract. But only teachers with more than three years of experience who receive an “effective” rating or higher and teachers with less less than three years who receive a “partly-effective” rating or higher are eligible for raises.

“I think the length of the agreement is a testament to the strength of the contract,” Superintendent Dan McMinimee said in a statement. “Both parties feel stability is important and this negotiation has gone well. My staff worked hard, the board gave as much to compensation as possible and JCEA was understanding of district limits. It all came together.”

Before the new deal is final, the union’s members must ratify the deal and the school board must take a formal vote. That vote is expected in June.

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