Board ponders next step in teacher talks

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By Daniel Laverty

The Jeffco school board will meet in executive session Thursday night to discuss the next steps in contract negotiations with the Jefferson County Education Association, Jeffco’s teachers union.

At an April 10 special meeting, the school board asked the JCEA to provide a written statement saying what would bring the teachers union back to the bargaining table.

“We’ve basically said that we will not return to the bargaining table unless the board is willing to revisit extending the contract (beyond 2015) and (salary increases),” said Ami Prichard, JCEA president. “We don’t feel the board’s negotiating team has been informed to adequately represent (the board’s) interests at the bargaining table. We’re prepared to move into mediation at this point.”

The current contract between the district and the teachers expires in August 2015. Jeffco teachers have not had a raise in four years.

Amy Weber, Jeffco Public Schools’ director of human resources, confirmed last week that a copy of the JCEA’s response was sent to each board member and that the board will discuss its next move on Thursday during executive session.

Negotiations have been at a standstill since April 7, when the JCEA’s bargaining team declared an impasse and walked out of the talks. It was the fourth bargaining session between the district and the teachers union this year. Both sides had agreed to make negotiations open to the public this year, the first time in Jeffco’s history.

If the JCEA’s bargaining team decides not to return to the talks, mediation by a third party would be the next step. That process would be conducted behind closed doors.

Before Thursday’s executive session, the board is expected to hear an update from Ray and Associates, the search firm hired to find Jeffco’s next superintendent. Superintendent Cindy Stevenson retired Feb. 21.

The board is also expected to have further discussions on next school year’s budget.

The next Jeffco Board of Education meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Jeffco Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Building 27, in Golden.