Jeffco Public Schools teachers could receive a cost-of-living increase of 2 percent if a recent agreement between the district administration and the teachers’ union is approved.
The possible increase is part of a package that also addresses other salary issues along with non-compensation areas such as collaborative decision-making.
“I am excited that we have an agreement that moves us a step closer to our vision of having an effective educator in every classroom and meaningful collaboration between educators, parents and administration,” said John Ford, social studies teacher and president of JCEA.
Last spring, Jeffco Public Schools and the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) established a five-year contract. However, compensation negotiations are conducted annually along with the opportunity to address a limited number of pertinent issues, and a tentative agreement on pay was reached the week of April 7 between JCEA and the district.
The agreement will be presented to JCEA membership for ratification after which it will be presented to the school board for a vote.
“We are pleased at the collaborative efforts that went into this agreement,” said Ron Mitchell, Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education president. “One of our board goals has been to make our salaries more competitive. Though we have limited resources, this agreement demonstrates our commitment to our teachers and should help us be more competitive in today’s market. We have had to tighten our belts, but we’ve been able to accomplish this without making serious cuts to programs that directly impact our students. Looking to the future, it is time for all of us to work together to increase funding for K-12 public education.”
The district agreed to a compensation package with JCEA valued at $19.5 million if state funding is sufficient to cover the cost-of-living increase.
The package includes: providing a step increase for employees who have demonstrated effective performance, providing level increases for effective employees with graduate-level credits and providing up to a 2 percent cost-of-living-adjustment contingent upon receiving sufficient state funding. Without sufficient state funding, the district has agreed to cover up to 1 percent.
The agreement also includes increasing the years of service offered to new employees hired for fall of 2017 by one year — recognizing six years rather than five.
Also addressed were non-compensation issues including collaborative decision-making, workload and a short-term disability plan redesign.
All Jeffco Public Schools employees would receive an increase in the amount contributed toward medical and dental premiums, the first increase since 2003. These increases are paid for by reallocating dollars within the current benefits expenses — a change required because of an appellate court decision and approved by the Jeffco Benefits Advisory Committee.
“I appreciate the efforts of the district and JCEA negotiating teams as well as our board to support competitive compensation for current and potential employees to ensure we continue to have highly talented professional educators in every classroom,” said acting Superintendent Terry Elliott.
The school district is still negotiating with the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association (JESPA), which covers support professionals.
If a similar agreement is reached with JESPA, and the district receives sufficient state funding, the school board will be committing an additional $26 millionfor all employee compensation for the 2017-18 school year as compared to 2016-17.