Jeffco board majority OKs tentative compensation plan for teachers

GOLDEN — The Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education tonight approved a loosely-defined teacher compensation model tied to the results of teacher evaluations that still have plenty of kinks to iron out.

Little is still known about exactly what the new model means for teachers, who have been working under salary freezes for several years.

And because the new model is a complete abandonment of the suburban school district’s status quo, a specific date when teachers will see their promised increases is unknown at this time.

The board’s vote came just a week after board chairman Ken Witt proposed the model. District staff worked hurriedly to crunch the numbers, which staff warned could change as more information is provided to the board.

“These numbers really will change,” said Lorie Gillis, Jeffco’s chief financial officer.

What is known at this time:

  • The base salary for teachers, which is currently about $33,000, will be raised to $38,000
  • Last year’s teacher evaluations will determine bonuses
  • Probationary teachers, those still in the first three years of teaching, who received a “partly-effective” rating will receive a 1 percent raise
  • Teachers who received an “effective” rating will receive a 2.43 percent raise
  • Teachers who received a “highly effective” rating will receive a 4.25 percent raise
  • All raises, regardless of when they are finalized, will be retroactive to the start of the school year

By comparison, had the school board accepted a tentative agreement reached last spring by the district and the Jefferson County Education Association, the average teacher would have received a 2.8 percent raise.

Among the issues that still need to be worked out include where the district will cut off raises, how the district will determine the starting salaries of veteran teachers who join the district each year, and what other factors the board might consider for pay raises.

The board and staff must also determine whether student data will be considered as part of the evaluation that determines pay increases and how the model will affect the district’s budget in future years.

“This makes sense to me,” Witt said.

But teachers in the board chambers were left scratching their heads.

“I don’t know,” said Lei Lani, an instructional coach at Campbell Elementary School, when asked how the board’s decision might affect her pay.

Lani, who has two graduate degrees, said her extra education allowed her to be paid more than some of her peers. But she’s concerned the new pay plan won’t take her degrees into account.

“It’s probably going to help,” she said. “But I really want to know how its going to impact my fellow teachers.”

Lani hopes she hears from the district soon.

But district staff is working through the motions just as much as teachers.

“This is going to be very complicated,” said Amy Weber, the district’s chief human resources officer, during an interview Thursday night. “Payroll needs to be done very carefully. This is a completely new way to do pay.”

Board member Jill Fellman Thursday night said one of the reasons she could not support the new model was because it was not created with teachers at the table.

“We need to be very clear — this your model, Mr. Witt,” Fellman said.

Thursday’s vote comes after the board majority — made up of Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk — rejected the findings of an independent review that suggested the board should agree to a tentative agreement reached by the district and union last spring that included pay raises for teachers who were considered “partly effective.”

Kerrie Dallman, president of the state’s largest teachers union, said her organization is prepared to stand with the local union, which is considering a lawsuit.

“It is being discussed,” she said. “JCEA will do everything possible to ensure their members’ rights under the collective bargaining agreement will be upheld. And The CEA will be ready to support them in whatever decision they’re prepared to make.”

The unions contract with the district ends this school year.

Thursday’s board room audience was noticeably smaller than in previous months. That’s because, some said, teachers were out knocking on doors throughout the county sharing their feelings about the board’s majority.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect only those teachers who are both on probation in their first three years of and have been rated as partly effective will get a one percent raise. 

This article has also been updated to clarify pay raises for teachers, once finalized, will be retroactive to the start of the school year.