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Education

  • School district negotiations raise Open Meetings Law questions

    The recent move by Jeffco Public Schools and the teachers union to take portions of contract negotiations behind closed doors falls into a murky area of Colorado’s Open Meetings Law.

    The district and the Jefferson County Education Association opened negotiations last month, and both sides agreed early on to break into small study groups and examine several priority topics. The two sides announced last week that meetings of the small groups would not be open to the public.

  • Study groups take over in teacher contract talks

    Jeffco Public Schools and the teachers union have agreed to take part of their current contract negotiations behind closed doors.

    The sides agreed early on to form small groups made up of representatives and experts to examine several priority topics. The smaller groups will meet to come up with options before the full bargaining teams gather again to hammer out a final agreement. The next public negotiations are slated for April 13.

  • Student-based budgeting lets principals get a jump on hiring

    Several months into Jeffco Public Schools’ implementation of student-based budgeting, area principals are saying the new policy gives them the ability to react quickly to their schools’ hiring needs.

    Until this year, school funding was directed by the district office and based on schools’ enrollments — students were counted in October, and then money was disbursed. Under the new model, enrollment is still a major factor, but principals decide what programs get cut, kept or expanded based on student and community needs.

  • Pay raises urged for principals, assistant principals

    Jeffco Public Schools should pay higher salaries to its principals and assistant principals, teachers who hold relevant master’s degrees, and staff in hard-to-fill positions, the district’s human resources chief said at a March 5 school board meeting.

    As the district moves into its budget season and gears up for contract negotiations with the teachers union, chief human resources officer Amy Weber recommended that board members consider instituting the pay changes to make the district more competitive.

  • Union seeks to protect names of teachers absent during sick-out

    A lawsuit filed by Jeffco’s teachers union in an attempt to protect the names of teachers who missed school during a “sick-out” last fall has shifted the district’s simmering discord to the judicial arena.

    An injunction issued last week prevents the district from any further release of the names of teachers who were absent last Sept. 19 — at least until a district court hearing scheduled for May 15.

  • String theory

    Note to school principals: If you want teachers to come up with creative and cost-efficient ideas, send them to Hawaii.

    Mary Bowlen, music teacher at Littleton’s Montessori Peaks Academy, was vacationing with her husband’s family on Oahu several years ago when she picked up a family friend’s ukulele.

    “I sat down, I played, and before I knew it, I was like, ‘I want one,’ ” she said.

  • Bill would allow concealed carry of guns at public schools

    A state representative who was a student at Columbine High School during the 1999 shootings wants holders of concealed-carry permits to be able to carry their guns in public schools.

    Last week state Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, introduced House Bill 1168, which would remove public schools from the list of places that concealed-carry holders cannot bring guns.

  • Alternatives to building new schools considered

    If Jeffco school board members don’t want to spend money on new buildings and renovations, there are alternatives to deal with crowded schools like Rooney Ranch Elementary — but district COO Steve Bell isn’t crazy about them.

    Alternative solutions to anticipated crowding at schools like Rooney Ranch could include installing temporary classrooms in the short term, and taking more drastic measures over the long term.

  • Alternatives to building new schools considered

    If Jeffco school board members don’t want to spend money on new buildings and renovations, there are alternatives to deal with crowded schools like Rooney Ranch Elementary — but district COO Steve Bell isn’t crazy about them.

    Alternative solutions to anticipated crowding at schools like Rooney Ranch could include installing temporary classrooms in the short term, and taking more drastic measures over the long term.

  • Jeffco develops Outdoor Lab master plan

    Jeffco Public Schools is developing a master plan for maintaining its outdoor lab schools on Mount Evans and in Bailey.

    Shannon Hancock, executive director of the Outdoor Lab Foundation, said the plan will address site needs, as well as educational impacts and programming goals.

    “This is a really exciting process,” she said.