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As the Jefferson County Public School Board mulls Superintendent Tracy Dorland’s recommendation to close 16 elementary schools in the district, 422 full-time staff members — including 188 classroom teachers — face uncertainty about their job prospects within the district after the 2022-2023 school year.
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The board will vote on Dorland’s recommendation on Nov. 10. If the recommendation is passed, the 16 schools would close at the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year. The district is working with its associations — the Jefferson County Educators Association and the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association — to help staff members navigate employment opportunities.
The district has about 3,600 classroom teachers and currently has 410 job openings — 103 of which are teacher positions; 89 JCEA positions and 14 pre-school positions — but is anticipating an increased staffing need if the consolidation plan comes to fruition, according to Jeffco Public Schools Communications Executive Director Kimberly Eloe.
Eloe said that the hiring process for staff members displaced by the consolidations will be different for probationary and non-probationary faculty.
Non-probationary staff are those in good standing with the district while probationary staff members are those who have not completed the three years needed to complete the induction process for licensure or who have a performance improvement plan from the district.
“As the JCEA agreement outlines, non-probationary teachers will have employment for one year following the displacement process,” Eloe said. “And they’ll be prioritized for interviews during the hiring process. And our educators can choose to seek ongoing mutual consent positions rather than just being placed into a position for one year. So, they could basically apply for a different position in the district, go through that hiring process and be chosen.”
Non-probationary staff members who do not seek ongoing mutual consent positions will be placed into an open position within the district, Eloe said.
Probationary teachers will need to seek mutual consent positions, Eloe said. If they cannot find one, they’ll be out of a job.
“If probationary teachers are unable to secure a mutual consent position, they will be non-renewed at the conclusion of this 2022-2023 school year,” Eloe said. “And so the difference being that a non-probationary teacher, if they go through mutual consent positions and they do not find one, they would be guaranteed a placement and a position for the 2023-2024 school year whereas a probationary teacher would just be non-renewed if they’re unable to seek a mutual consent position.”
Eloe said that the district is considering holding an internal-only hiring period between the Nov. 10 school board decision and the district’s normal hiring process for the 2023-2024 school year, which usually begins in February. Eloe said that hiring period would seek to keep displaced staff members in Jeffco.
“We really do believe here in Jeffco that we already employ the best and brightest educators in our state,” Eloe said. “And we really want to do everything possible to retain them within Jeffco public schools and to work collaboratively so they can achieve their career goals and aspirations in this process as well.”
JCEA President Brooke Williams said that while the idea has been floated by the district, no decisions have been made.
“We are currently discussing a lot of ideas with the district right now, but we don't have any agreements yet,” Williams said.
Eloe said that the district will offer staff opportunities to gain endorsements for “hard-to-staff areas” at no cost to them. She explained that special education and secondary math and science teachers are the hardest positions to fill in the district right now, and the district would pay for staff to get special education endorsements to make them more competitive in the hiring process.
Staffing needs created by consolidations will be determined after the choice enrollment period which begins on Dec. 6, after which the district will determine where staffing is needed.
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