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Jeffco teachers have a new long-term contract, but unrest remains

Jeffco Public Schools teachers LaVerne Manzanares, left, and Rosa Resendiz, discuss possible strategies to increase academic language at their schools.
Jeffco Public Schools teachers LaVerne Manzanares, left, and Rosa Resendiz, discuss possible strategies to increase academic language at their schools.
Nicholas Garcia

The Jefferson County school board on Thursday approved a long-term deal with the school district’s teachers union, which includes $10.4 million in pay increases for the next academic year.

The five-year contract comes as no surprise to observers. This school board was elected by wide margins in November’s high-profile election. That vote was headlined by the successful recall of three conservative board members who were at odds with the county’s teacher union, the Jefferson County Education Association, over teacher pay.

The recall effort and the victors were bankrolled in large part by local, state and national teachers unions.

But it remains unclear whether the new deal will ease educator unrest in Jeffco.

According to a new survey released at the same board meeting, fewer than half of all Jeffco Public Schools employees — including teachers, administrators and support staff — reported a healthy work climate.

Only 49 percent of survey respondents said they felt “encouraged to use their own professional judgment to get the job done.”

Less than 40 percent said Jeffco schools managed change effectively.

And 43 percent of of employees said the district valued creativity.

The new school board got high marks, however. About 82 percent of employees said the school board was leading the district effectively. But only half of the respondents said the same about Superintendent Dan McMinimee, who was hired by the three ousted school board members.

About 56 percent of all Jeffco employees took the online survey between April and May.

Despite the concerns spotlighted in the survey — teacher training and evaluations received little praise — nearly nine out of every 10 employee responded said they planned to stay with the district.

So the question remains: What more does Jeffco need to do to make its teachers feel happy and supported?

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