250 demonstrate for 'fair' negotiations with teachers union

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Talks, which began this week, are open to public

By Daniel Laverty

More than 250 people, mostly teachers, showed up at Golden High School last Thursday to urge the Jeffco school board to conduct fair and pleasant employee negotiations.

“We wanted to give our members a chance to make a positive statement that we are standing together and holding our school board accountable,” said Ami Prichard, president of the Jefferson County Education Association, the teachers union.

In a landmark decision, both the school board and the JCEA agreed to make this year’s employee negotiations open to the public for the first time in Jefferson County.

The negotiations, which began Monday, are expected to last multiple weeks. The board will continue to meet with JCEA members from 4 to 9 p.m. March 17 and 31 and April 7, 15 and 28 and May 5. All meetings take place at the Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Building 27, in Golden.

Demonstrators held signs and cheered the speakers, who included a parent, a teacher, a principal and a minister. Each speaker talked about the importance of quality teachers.

“It really was a community effort,” Prichard said. “I only found out I was the emcee that afternoon. There are too many people to name who helped make this happen.”

The last speaker was Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association.

“We’ve shown that we know how to collaborate,” Dallman said. “Now it’s time for this board to show us how they collaborate.”

Dallman’s comment was met with rousing cheers and applause.

The Douglas County School District made union negotiations public in 2012. The conservative-controlled Dougco board has since severed collective-bargaining ties with its teachers union.

The JCEA collected more than 4,000 signatures on a petition that urged the school board to honor contract negotiations and not turn the district into “another Dougco.”

“I’m an optimistic person,” Prichard said. “I like to think that we can all work together.”

Contact Daniel Laverty at 303-350-1042 or  Daniel@evergreenco.com.  Follow Daniel on Twitter @LavertyReports.