Teacher raises on hold as board rejects fact-finder's report

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Provision giving raises to 'partially effective' teachers at issue

By Daniel Laverty

The rocky relationship between Jeffco’s teachers union and Board of Education continued Thursday night after the school board rejected a third-party report recommending that teachers rated “partially effective” should receive a pay increase.

Members of the school board’s majority said they felt only teachers rated “effective” or “highly effective” should receive raises, which the report also recommended. Board members Julie Williams, Ken Witt and John Newkirk rejected the recommendations, while board members Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper voted in favor.

The final compensation plan, including which teachers will receive raises, will be decided by the board before Oct. 10, per the contract between the district and the Jeffco Education Association, the teachers union.

The board will then decide how to spend the $18.2 million set aside for teacher raises, said Amy Weber, Jeffco Public Schools’ director of human resources. 

Until compensation details are finalized, teacher salaries will remain at 2013-14 levels entering the new school year. 

The fact-finder’s report, which was released Thursday morning, also recommended the district and teachers union develop a new compensation system for this year.

“The fact-finder has found that the current evaluation system lacks sufficient validity and reliability as a basis for setting salaries,” according to the report.

Board President Witt presented a new compensation model that included:

• All Jeffco teachers would earn $38,000.

• Every “effective” and “highly effective” teacher would receive a pay increase. 

• “Highly effective” teachers would receive a pay increase that is at least 50 percent higher than the increase given to “effective” teachers.

• No teacher rated “ineffective” or “partially effective” would receive a raise, unless his or her salary is under $38,000.

The current starting salary for a new teacher in Jeffco with a bachelor’s degree is $33,616.

“Simplicity is very important when it comes to compensation,” Witt said. “People need to understand exactly what it takes to be successful.”

The board didn’t vote on Witt’s compensation proposal, but the district’s financial staff will be working the numbers this week to see if Witt’s model will work. The board will hear a presentation at its Sept. 4 meeting.

“The district is stepping away from the commitment it made when it went into fact-finding,” said John Ford, JCEA president.  

Contract negotiations between the district and the teachers union were held in public this year for the first time. Negotiations began in March but ended after the union declared an impasse and left the bargaining table in April.

Closed-door negotiations followed and led to a tentative agreement between the union’s and the district’s bargaining teams. The school board rejected the agreement in June, however, because teachers rated “partially effective” would have received a pay increase. 

Jeffco teachers have not received a raise since 2010. The current contract between the district and teachers union expires in August 2015.

PARCC testing and Common Core

In a rare occurrence, Witt joined Fellman and Dahlkemper in a vote to delay taking a stance against Common Core standards and PARCC testing. 

“I don’t know as much as I need to know,” Witt said. “I’d like to take a deeper dive in the assessments and have a personal experience (with PARCC testing).”

Williams made a push in May for the board to make an official statement against the implementation of Common Core standards and PARCC testing. A busy schedule this year stopped the board from taking a stance, as the board was tasked with finding a new superintendent, negotiating with the teachers union and approving the 2014-15 budget.

“We’ve had enough testing,” Williams said, asking the board to take a stance against PARCC testing. 

The board voted 3-2 to table the resolution and to discuss the issue further at a future board meeting. Williams and Newkirk were in the minority.

Common Core is a set of academic standards in math and English that outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. Forty-two states have joined Colorado in adopting Common Core standards.

PARCC tests — Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers —are aligned with and are designed to assess a student’s understanding of Common Core standards.

The next school board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Jeffco Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. 

For more information, visit www.jeffcopublicschools.org.

Contact Daniel Laverty at 303-350-1042 or Daniel@evergreenco.com