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Fact finding report sides with Jeffco Schools teachers

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Jeffco Schools and the Jefferson County Education Association released the recommendations of a fact-finding report about contract negotiations after the two parties met this morning. The fact finder recommended that teachers who were rated partially effective receive a step increase in 2014-15 and that Jeffco Schools and JCEA work together to develop an improved evaluation system for the 2015-16 year.

The report also recommended that if the two parties developed an improved evaluation system that only teachers rated effective or higher should receive step increases in 2015-16. However, if that did not happen, it recommended continuing to give increases to teachers rated partially effective in 2015-16.

Jeffco Schools sent out a press release after the meeting in response to the recommendations. “While the fact-finder’s report recommends that teachers rated partially effective receive a pay increase this year, the district has consistently expressed a belief that there should be an effective teacher in every classroom,” the press release said. It added that professional development is provided to teachers rated partially effective or ineffective.

JCEA also sent out a press release after the meeting. “We know that the single most important factor in a student’s education is having a quality teacher in every classroom," said JCEA President John Ford. "The fact finder’s recommendations will allow the association and the district to refine the implementation of the evaluation process to make it more reliable, consistent and rigorous."

“Having an evaluation system that does not accurately rate teachers does not help reach our goal of every student being taught by a quality teacher," Ford said. The district is declaring they must have it their way, even after the fact-finder, a neutral third party, has said the evaluation system ‘lacks sufficient validity and reliability as a basis for setting salaries.’”

“We believe that the administrators doing the evaluating have received excellent training and are professionals who know what good teaching looks like against a rubric,” Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee said. “It’s critically important that we ensure every Jeffco student has an effective teacher and we want to make sure that those teachers see an increase in their paychecks as soon as possible.”

Jeffco Schools reported that 89 Jeffco teachers had a partially effective or ineffective evaluation rating in 2013-14. The district employs more than 5,000 teachers.

The recommendations are non-binding and the Jeffco School Board has 30 days to accept or reject the recommendations. The board will meet tonight at 5:30 to discuss the report. If they decide to take action, it will be added to the agenda for the regular meeting at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be streamed live from the board room.

“JCEA and the District have a forty-five year history of working collaboratively through some difficult issues, and during that time the District has always accepted the recommendations of arbitration and fact finding even though they were not legally bound to do so,” Ford said. “The bottom line is while senior administration and the board majority continue to disregard community and educator input, teachers in Jeffco will be focused on our students.”