Your Voice: An open letter to the Jeffco school board about the teacher contract

Jul 31st, 2015 | By | Category: Education

NegotiationsGreat Letter.  A must read!

Posted by on July 27, 2015 in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2690 Views | 5 Responses

 

Dear members of the Jeffco School Board:

This is the first time I have ever written to the Board as a whole (I did write one letter to Ms. Williams in May).  I am a teacher at Golden High School, and I have been a successful teacher in Jeffco for over 20 years.

It is my understanding that the contract negotiations have stalled because you have directed your bargaining team to offer a contract to your teachers for only 10 months, as opposed to the 4 years that we have had since long before I began teaching in this District.  It is my understanding that JCEA representatives were willing to negotiate to a 3-year contract and that limited re-negotiations (such as about compensation) would happen annually.

Here is my question:  Why?

  • You gave Mr. McMinimee, a new superintendent, a 3 year contract, but you only offer me, a proven veteran with a stellar track record, a 10 month contract?
  • You were each elected to serve for 4 years, a contract with the voters of Jeffco, yet you only offer me 10 months?
  • You recently updated and signed a contract with the secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, clinic aides and other “classified” employees for 6 years, but you only offer me 10 months?
  • You even renewed your contract with the attorney who only works for the Board (but not the District and not with kids) for 12 months, but you will offer me, who works directly with our kids, only 10 months?
  • I have invested 20 years in Jeffco as a teacher and instructional coach, but you are only willing to invest 10 months in me?
  • I am planning on retiring from Jeffco, which means I am investing the next 10 or more years into this District, but you are only willing to invest in me for 10 months?

Perhaps I seem to be taking this too “personally.”  But it is personal.  This is my career and my profession.  I have chosen to dedicate my life and my talents to the students in this District.  I have weathered several “storms” in this District and I haven’t bailed.  I have adjusted to each new curricular demand of this District in order to best serve my students.  Yet, you are not willing to ensure my working conditions for more than 10 months.

If you are worried about whether I will continue to be a good teacher, an “effective teacher,” I believe the team has negotiated ways for you to end the contract with me (to release me from the District) for cause.  I would be horrified if you believed that you had to offer a short contract because you believe all the thousands of teachers of Jeffco will fail in their jobs.

I have heard it has something to do with fiscal calendars and wanting to “test drive” the new contract for a short period.  For at least 35 years, our contract has been for multiple years and has expired in August — I don’t recall hearing anything about fiscal difficulties or planning challenges during that time. Additionally, your other contracts, such as with the Classified School Employees Association (secretaries, bus drivers, food service, custodians, etc.) go through August 31.  What’s the difference?  As for the “test drive,” of course parts of the contract should be tweaked if needed (just as my instruction is constantly tweaked), but to start over and waste all the work that has been done so far seems highly foolish.

What is it you anticipate will change?  The contract as it stands now doesn’t deal with compensation issues – that will be renegotiated each year.  It deals with working conditions: how many students I  will teach, how much planning and grading time I will be provided, how I will be evaluated, how much professional development I will receive, and similar issues.  What is it you expect to have to be renegotiated?  What is it that you think will be objectionable and need a massive overhaul in 10 months?

The negotiation teams for both the District and the teachers association have been working hard since February to follow your directions and create a new contract “from a blank piece of paper.”  Everything was up for negotiations.  This work was time-consuming and expensive to conduct, but both groups did an admirable job.  Why do you not have faith in the group you directed to represent the District?  Why do you value their work so little that they will have to start over in December or January?

So, once again, my question is simple:  why are you willing to only commit to me for 10 months?  Why am I only worth a 10 month agreement?

Thank you for your attention.

Tammie Peters

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