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Tentative Jeffco teacher pay deal sets starting salary at $50,000

Students look at work on their desks in a crowded classroom.

Jeffco union representatives believe a new teacher salary agreement strikes a balance between attracting new teachers and rewarding experienced educators.

AAron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post

New teachers in Jeffco Public Schools will earn starting salaries of $50,000 and the most experienced teachers will be able to earn more than $100,000 a year under a tentative agreement between the district and the teachers union.

Jeffco Public Schools and the Jefferson County Education Association reached the agreement late Wednesday, two weeks before the start of the school year.  Earlier, after months of bargaining, the union had declared an impasse and the two sides had moved to mediation. 

The agreement still requires ratification by the school board and union members.

Christine Wiggins, a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Education Association, the union representing teachers and special service providers, said the new salary schedule strikes a balance between retaining experienced educators, which had been the union’s priority, and attracting new teachers to the district, which had been the administration’s priority. 

Starting salaries for new teachers will go up 15% to $50,000 from the current $43,274 a year. Wiggins estimated that average increases for current teachers would be around 9%. The contract guarantees all teachers a raise of at least $3,000 a year and some will get two or three times that.

A district spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about the agreement, including how much it will cost, instead deferring comment until an official statement is released Thursday afternoon. 

School districts around the state are increasing pay as they grapple with staffing shortages, even as the rapidly rising cost of living eats away at those gains.

Wiggins said she believes the new agreement will help Jeffco be competitive within the Denver metro area where teachers have many options. Neighboring Westminster Public Schools adopted a starting salary of $50,000 three years ago, while Denver Public Schools’ starting salary remains at $47,291.

“Here in Jeffco, we hear over and over about the educators who go to other districts and get substantial raises,” Wiggins said. “They can go to Cherry Creek or they can go to Mapleton. We want to keep our experienced educators in the classroom and attract new ones.”

The agreement also guarantees more planning time for elementary teachers and allows special education teachers to get paid for more of the paperwork and meetings they do outside normal work hours.

​​Bureau Chief Erica Meltzer covers education policy and politics and oversees Chalkbeat Colorado’s education coverage. Contact Erica at emeltzer@chalkbeat.org.

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