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District, Jeffco teachers reach agreement

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By AJ Vicens

Jeffco Public Schools and the Jefferson County Education Association have come to a tentative agreement that guarantees a 2.7 percent pay increase and $1.4 million to help teachers with "workload issues."

The deal also promises a 0.9 percent increase in the district's contribution to the Public Employees' Retirement Association. An additional 0.5 percent salary increase is promised if the district gets a mill-levy increase passed in November.

The 2.7 percent cost-of-living increase will begin Sept. 1.

The contract has to be ratified by the school board and JCEA members.

The $1.4 million workload assistance money will provide $10,000 per school "to use for paraprofessional support or other strategies that will help teachers manage an increased level of responsibility," according to a statement from the district.

"We are pleased with the deal," said Nancy Henderson, president of the union. "We are fully mindful of the district's financial status right now. This puts the district and us in a good position for the future."

Henderson said the additional 0.5 percent was part of what the union originally wanted but was and attached to the potential mill-levy increase.

"The teachers are supportive of the district asking the community again to bring more resources into the school district," Henderson said. "It's definitely time. We have a lot of good positive momentum, and in a year or two we will have to be making cuts."

Henderson said the tone of the negotiations was "more collaborative than in the past," and that interest-based bargaining was used. "Both sides tell their stories, list their interests around certain issues and try to problem-solve through those issues," Henderson said.

"I am pleased that we were able to reach this agreement with JCEA and look forward to working with them for the benefit of our students and teachers," said Cindy Stevenson, Jeffco Public Schools' superintendent. "This is a fair settlement that reflects the success of our teachers in managing the dramatically increasing expectations for our schools."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.