Pay Day! May Day!

Jeffco board majority OKs tentative compensation plan for teachers

PHOTO: Nicholas Garcia
Jefferson County teachers wait for an elevator outside the district's board chambers after the Board of Education approved a tentative compensation model that abandons the traditional structure based on time and education.

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.

planning ahead

New superintendent’s vision for Jeffco: It’s not just what happens in school that matters

Jason Glass, the sole finalist for the superintendent position in Jeffco Public Schools, toured Arvada High School in May. (Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat)

In a vision document meant to guide Jeffco Public Schools for the next several years, Superintendent Jason Glass is underscoring the importance of boosting student learning by addressing issues that reach beyond the classroom.

Glass took the top job in the state’s second largest school district this summer. The new vision document, released Wednesday, has a strong focus on equity, improving students’ learning experiences and working with outside groups to help create “a Jeffco where no child suffers from hunger, preventable illness, lack of dental care or lack of mental health supports.”

Though the plan draws on previous district planning documents, it is more specific in parts and carries a strong emphasis on addressing out-of-school issues, a big emphasis of Glass’s since before he assumed the role.

“This was not intended as some jarring change,” Glass said in an interview. “But I think it provides greater clarity.”

The structure of the plan divides the work into learning, conditions for learning and readiness for learning. The first two sections focus on work happening inside schools, while the third section points to “decades of education research which confirms that the biggest indicators of student success are related to out-of-school factors and the student’s environment. ”

Some of the work under the readiness for learning section — such as expanding social and emotional support and parent and community engagement — is not new. But using schools as “community hubs,” and having a section on expanding early childhood education is new compared to the existing Jeffco Vision 2020 authored by former superintendent Dan McMinimee.

The two vision documents share similarities.

Both suggest the use of so-called “multiple pathways” to offer students a variety of ways to learn and reach graduation. But Glass gets more specific, mentioning apprenticeships, internships and partnerships with community colleges to increase early college credit options.

Both documents also mention the need to incorporate technology for student learning and the need to hire and retain high quality educators. Glass goes further by suggesting the district must commit to paying teachers and staff “a fair, livable and reasonable wage.”

Glass’s vision also notes that the district must find a balance between giving schools flexibility and having district-wide direction. Several metro-area districts have been moving for years to give school leaders more autonomy to make decisions, especially through innovation status.

In an interview Tuesday, Glass said that flexibility in Jeffco schools already exists, and that he would allow principals to keep flexibility in hiring and budgeting. But, he said he’ll have to evaluate whether more or less flexibility is better, saying, “both or neither” are possible.

But in keeping with a new value he’s adding in the document for having an entrepreneurial spirit he adds that innovative thinking toward the same district goals, will be encouraged.

“So long as there is a north star we’re all looking toward,” Glass said.

The former vision document included a strategic plan that laid out a rubric with goals, such as having all students completing algebra by the end of ninth grade by 2017. Other metrics were not as detailed, only pointing to certain reports, like attendance or discipline reports, to look for progress.

The Jeffco district will contract with a consultant, Deliver-Ed, that will evaluate the district’s ability to execute the new vision plan.

The group is then expected to provide some recommendations and help the district create a more detailed strategic plan with clear performance metrics and ideas for how the budget will affect the district’s work. Glass said he expects the detailed action plan to be completed by March or April.

Asked whether the plan is also meant to lay out the need for more local funding through a future ballot measure, Glass said that work is separate. He said the work laid out in the vision plan will happen regardless of more or less funding.

“We’re going to take whatever resources we have, at whatever level, and we’re going to execute what’s in this plan,” Glass said.

Glass has toured the district holding public meetings to gather input for the document. Now that it is created, the components of the vision plan must still be vetted by the community, Glass said.

It will start with Glass hosting a Facebook live event at 11 a.m. to discuss the vision document.

different voices

Jeffco superintendent extends listening tour through event targeting multilingual community

Jeffco Superintendent Jason Glass talks to community members at Arvada K-8 during a Many Voices event. (Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat)

In an extension of his district tour, new Jeffco Superintendent Jason Glass on Monday answered questions about biliteracy, equity gaps and school financing in the first of three “many voices” events.

The events are meant to give the multilingual and non English-speaking community an opportunity to speak out on issues. About 35 people showed at the auditorium at Arvada K-8 Monday, including a handful who listened to Glass through a translator on a headset.

Glass said he heard more questions about equity and language issues than he had on previous stops on his tour to get acquainted with different parts of the sprawling, 86,000-student district. Roughly 10.5 percent of Jeffco residents speak a language other than English at home, according to Census data.

When Glass was hired, and as he moved into the position, he said he would make equity issues a priority. He often talks about disparities in Jeffco school buildings, with some in desperate need of updates and others that are “fantastic” — and did again Monday.

He also answered a question — familiar to many Colorado superintendents — about why marijuana tax revenues aren’t helping with significant building needs.

One man asked if Glass was interested in offering Jeffco students a biliteracy seal, an endorsement that proves graduates have mastered two languages. Glass, as leader of Eagle County schools, helped that district become one of the first in the state to offer the seal.

“I think it has a positive aspect, just cognitively,” Glass said. “And I think it’s a huge advantage when kids go out into the workforce. I think we should move this forward.”

Glass also mentioned he’s looking into different ways schools might address students’ differing needs. He cited community school models, which bring in community organizations to help provide health care and other services to students and student-based budgeting, which involves allocating more or less money to certain students depending on need, following them to whichever school they attend. But Glass said the key is not to lower expectations.

When a woman asked what he’s noticed visiting Jeffco schools, Glass said he’s seen a lot of hard work and professional talent. But he said he has also seen a lot of worksheets.

He told the group he’d like to see better student engagement through more hands-on learning.

A mom of a kindergartener told Glass she wanted more school communication to know what her student is learning and how well he is doing. Glass agreed.

“That needs to be a priority for us is how we view our partnership with our parents,” Glass said.

At the end of the event, Glass noted similarities in the hour-long discussion and previous ones he hosted.

“The thing that we keep coming back to, that can unite us, is the student experience,” Glass said.

Glass said that although many things can be done in different ways, if student experience doesn’t change, reforms won’t make much of an impact.

The next two multilingual events are scheduled for: 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2 at Jefferson Junior-Senior High School and 6 p.m. Tuesday, October 10 at Alameda International Junior-Senior High School.