District seeks to revive talks with teachers

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Board asks union what it would need to return to negotiations

By Daniel Laverty

In an effort to restart contract talks, the Jeffco school board has asked the teachers union what it would take for union negotiators to return to the bargaining table.

“I think it’s in the board’s best interest to keep JCEA at the (bargaining) table,” board member Lesley Dahlkemper said at Thursday night’s meeting.

Negotiations deadlocked Monday when the Jeffco Education Association bargaining team declared an impasse and walked out of the talks. The school board called a special meeting for Thursday night to discuss strategies with its bargaining team and attorneys.

Dahlkemper said it appeared the JCEA left the table because of salary issues and that offering a 2 to 3 percent increase might end the impasse and keep negotiations public. The talks would move behind closed doors if a mediator becomes involved.

“I’d be delighted to see JCEA come back to negotiations,” said board President Ken Witt. “JCEA has declared impasse … and we need to see a specific statement from JCEA.”

“We already know the answer to that question,” Dahlkemper said. She proposed giving a 2.5 percent salary increase to every teacher, which would cost the district roughly $12.5 million.

“I will not have this board arguing for the JCEA,” Witt said. “I do not want to suppose or take a position for (JCEA).”

Amy Weber, Jeffco Public Schools’ director of human resources, said she would reach out to the JCEA for a response to Witt’s request and anticipated an answer by Friday or Monday.

At this time, the board has yet to schedule another meeting to review the JCEA’s response.

The scheduled April 14 bargaining session has been canceled. The current contract between the district and the teachers expires in August 2015.

See the April 16 print edition of the Courier for a full version of this story.