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School board won’t extend teachers' contract

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Board will keep 2015 expiration date

By Daniel Laverty

The Jeffco school board will not extend the current agreement between the teachers union and Jeffco Public Schools.

Members of the Jefferson County Education Association asked for the contract to be extended on March 10, when negotiations began. District employees gave an update to the school board during an executive session March 13 and informed board members of the JCEA’s desire for an extension.

The current contract between the district and JCEA expires Aug. 31, 2015.

Amy Weber, the district’s human resources director, said the board has no desire to extend the teachers’ contract and is committed to negotiations next year. 

“Given new board members and a soon-to-be-hired superintendent, we think it is in the best interest of Jeffco … to maintain a contract expiration date of 2015,” Weber said, reading a statement from the board.

“Can you explain why?” asked Lisa Elliott, JCEA executive director.

“Because if there’s no … end date, then there’s no opportunity to navigate through a successful successor agreement (after the contract expires),” Weber said.

JCEA representatives offered to extend the contract to 2018 or 2019, while also agreeing to open the entire contract for bargaining next year. JCEA members said many teachers are concerned about the union’s future and that extending the contract would end those concerns.

Weber said the board was very clear that extending the contract date was not an option.

“This is exactly what Douglas County school board did when they let the contract expire and refused to negotiate it,” Elliott said. “I’m going on the record now that (the Jeffco school board’s) current position on this issue does not engender a lot of trust.”

“One of our interests is to have robust discussion around contract (negotiations in 2015),” Weber said, adding that JCEA wouldn’t have an obligation to participate in such bargaining with an extended contract date.

“Having an end date doesn’t end robust conversations,” said Stephanie Rossi, JCEA’s bargaining chair. “We have always had robust conversations because we trust each other. Trust on our part? We can’t dissolve your organization.

“There is a great fear that JCEA will cease to exist because the board will not negotiate after 2015,” Rossi continued. “We can guarantee a robust conversation if this is extended to 2018.”

After realizing the same points were being repeated, both groups decided to stop the discussion and move to other topics.

No school board members were present during the negotiations. District staff represented the board’s views and will update the board on future negotiating sessions during an executive session at the April 3 school board meeting.

Negotiations will continue from 4 to 8 p.m. March 31 and April 7, 15 and 28 and May 5. All meetings are open to the public and take place at the Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Building 27, in Golden.

Contact Daniel Laverty at 303-350-1042 or Daniel@evergreenco.com. Check CanyonCourier.com for updates and breaking news. Follow Daniel on Twitter @LavertyReports.