Teacher contract negotiations between Jeffco Schools and the Jefferson County Education Association reached a possible compromise after both parties signed a tentative agreement on Thursday, Aug. 6. JCEA will now take the agreement to its members for a vote.
If a majority of JCEA members vote to approve the agreement at JCEA’s Aug. 21 meeting, it will then be voted on at the Jeffco School Board’s Aug. 27 meeting. Initial reaction to the contract has been mixed.
One strong point of contention is that Jeffco Schools only offered JCEA a 10-month contract, despite the fact that the district spent five months negotiating this contract. Previous contracts have been for four years.
Critics have pointed out that when Superintendent Dan McMinimee was hired in July 2014, he received a three-year contract despite having no experience as a superintendent, but experienced teachers are only being offered a 10-month contract despite years of effective and highly effective evaluations in Jeffco.
Others, like Golden High School teacher Tammie Peters asked why the district recently updated and signed a contract with Jeffco’s Classified School Employees Association for six years, approved a 12-month contract with school board attorney Brad Miller, but will only agree to a ten-month contract for teachers.
“I have chosen to dedicate my life and my talents to the students in this district,” Peters wrote in a letter to the Denver Post. “Yet you are not willing to ensure my working conditions for more than 10 months.”
The tentative agreement also streamlines the grievance process, includes a sizeable section on collaboration, and outlines class size guidelines. The guidelines suggest 18-24 per class for grades K-3 and 22-30 students per class for grades 4-6. However, the tentative agreement also states, “class configurations and student workload can best be determined at the school level, collaboratively between administrators and educators.”
If the contract is approved by both JCEA and the Jeffco School Board, teachers will have a new contract in place for Sept. 1. The current contract expires Aug. 31. Teachers start work on Monday in preparation for students who will begin school on Aug. 17.
“While both sides compromised on contract components, we believe this agreement is good for Jeffco students and Jeffco teachers,” McMinimee said in a press release.
JCEA also found itself blocked from participating in the Jeffco Schools induction day earlier this week. JCEA has presented workshops and otherwise participated during the new employee training in past years.
Scott Kwasny, JCEA communications and field operations director, told the Colorado Independent that this year JCEA’s workshops were cancelled and the organization was told it was not welcome to provide lunch at the event. McMinimee responded that JCEA had a table at the event, just like a health insurance company and a credit union. McMinimee also told the Independent that “we’re in some different times in Jefferson County right now,” potentially referring the contract negotiations still underway or a lawsuit filed by JCEA this spring to block a compensation plan that would have paid new hires more than Jeffco teachers with the same experience and education.