Declaring impasse

Jeffco teachers union and district negotiations move to mediations


After 90 minutes of bargaining with the Jefferson County school district, more than 600 Jeffco educators, parents and supporters walked out of a negotiation meeting between the district and the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) Monday, April 7.

The walkout followed a discussion of financials, specifically, teacher compensation. At which point, members of the district's negotiating team stated after recent budget amendments by the Board of Education, there were not enough dollars in the current budget to cover step increases for educators. JCEA members declared an impasse, moving the discussions into private mediation between the two groups and a third-party mediator.

“We (the JCEA) created a list of options and none of those were accepted by the district,” JCEA President, Ami Prichard said. “We felt our options were in line with the community survey, and our priorities were in line with the community's. We feel the board continues to ignore what we need for students to be successful.”

In the past two years, Jeffco educators have faced a 3 percent reduction in compensation to help weather budget cuts. During the 2013-2014 school year bargaining sessions, the district negotiated an agreement, earmarking a step increase for qualified employees within the school district.

“Previous boards have had a long history of collaborating with our educators,” said Lesley Dahlkemper, a member of the Jeffco Board of Education. “That tradition has unraveled in just a few weeks because some members of the board are not willing to honor an agreement made last year with teachers regarding compensation.”

In a statement sent to media by board President, Ken Witt, he states the board has earmarked $11.7 million as a compensation placeholder to honor last year's agreement to look at a compensation increase.

“The district has maintained a budgetary $11.7 million dollar total compensation increase placeholder in accordance with the expectations from last year, and I hope we are able to move forward to mutual agreement on compensation and honoring the terms of the agreement,” he said. “We are committed to honoring the association agreement.”

The JCEA and Jeffco school district have a 45-year history of collaboration, and Prichard said she hopes to continue that tradition and come to an agreement which meets the interests of all Jeffco students.

“We hope the district bargaining team and the board will sit down and decide to come to some agreements that are in the interests of all our kids,” she said. “We know our public wants a strong educations system and we're going to fight for it.”

As of press time, no timeline for mediation has been set.


2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

OK, let's add some perspective. What they are haggling about is not the automatic step increases in pay for just being a teacher in Jeffco and putting in your time, but about how much those step increases will be.

The average median salary of a K-12 teacher in Jeffco is about $50,107 per year. That is direct pay and does not count the costs of a much better than average retirement system (PERA)nor the fact that they are only working for 187 days per year which is equivalent to 37.4 work weeks. (FYI: most of the taxpayers in Jeffco typically work about 240 days per year which is the equivalent of 48 weeks.)

That level of pay roughly corresponds to a teacher with a BA + 40 credits at Step 7 which is a salary of $50,107.

Simply by not quitting in a tizzy and going to DPS schools,that typical Jeffco teacher will go to Step 8 with a salary of $52,330 which is a $2,223 step increase which is a 4.4% increase in pay - something that the vast majority of taxpayers in Jeffco will not get this year.

BTW, if that same teacher hangs around a few more years and reaches Step 15 they will be paid $70,723.

At 25, at about age 50: $78,652.

And then they retire and get MOST of that for the rest of their life.

Maybe that is why the union Rep and the in their pocket old board members don't want to talk about specifics.

"There are lies, damned lies and statistics." - Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | Report this

correction: The average median salary of a K-12 teacher in Jeffco is about $49,875

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | Report this