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Teacher pay and more behind the closed doors of Jeffco schools

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According to figures provided to the Colorado Department of Education, the average annual teacher salary in the Jefferson County school district as of fall 2011 was $54,900 with 4,729 FTE (full time equivalent) teachers employed by Jefferson County schools. Out of all 180 school districts state wide, regardless of student performance, Jefferson County ranks 6th in the highest rate of pay for its teachers.

Jefferson County, like other public school districts state wide, maintains a last in first out approach as the only means of retaining highly effective teachers. Last in first out (LIFO) simply means that regardless of teacher performance including regular work attendance, student achievement, and a myriad of other performance factors; teachers are guaranteed a job with preferential placement and in many cases an automatic raise.

In Jefferson County, as well as other school districts, this system is negotiated in support by the teachers union, with the majority school board endorsing the practice. The teachers union is comprised of teachers contributing monthly to their organization known as JCEA (Jefferson County Education Association). Transparency records reveal as of June 29, 2012, Jeffco teachers alone, have contributed $1,372,847.03 to their elite union for year 2012. That is an average of $228,808.84 per month taken directly from teachers pay checks with a taxpayer supported payroll system and making these dollars payable to JCEA. By years end, Jefferson County teachers will have made more than $2.7M in union contributions to maintain a system that guarantees their job while eliminating many of their peer’s potential to ever stand a chance of launching their careers and true dedication to the profession.

For a more specific example, public information reveals this scenario occurring in one Jeffco R1 middle school:
A 7th grade math teacher is hired on 8-13-2010 for a starting wage of $38,850. This teacher is hired as a “probationary” teacher due to LIFO practices the school district supports. This teacher has prior teaching experience and assumably an evaluation history of notable student achievement results. Why else would the district hire him while more than half of all their 10th graders in Jefferson County remain NOT proficient in math? At the end of year one for this "probationary" teacher, the 7th grade CSAP math scores reveal a near 6% increase in students that ARE proficient in math from the prior year’s test scores.While some uncertainties remain and parents are kept in the dark, is it possible this teacher contributed to this impressive growth in math proficiency? It doesn’t matter, this teacher lost his job.

Regardless of this teacher’s performance as compared to his peers, he lost his very important teaching job due to LIFO practices. In the process of this math teacher being hired and fired, one of the two P.E. teachers at this very school received an increase in annual salary from $71,673.00 to $72, 309.00. The date of hire for this particular P.E. teacher; 1-04-1993 and performance is a non-issue. This is one small example of union activity.

Specifically in Jefferson County, this activity is supported by a majority school board with its first year President, Lesley Dahlkemper, participating in private negotiations with the union just this past spring. Ms. Dahlkemper promised transparency in her campaign to win a seat on the school board this past year. Now we see Ms. Dahlkemper, along with her husband Mike Feely, former state senator and a current lead attorney challenging the states TABOR laws, asking the taxpayers of Jefferson County to fund their deceptive behavior. Dahlkemper/Feely along with Jill Fellman who won her seat as secretary on the board of education by campaigning on transparency as well, has since engaged her husband former Arvada Mayor Ken Fellman, in an attempt to convince the voters to pony up more cash for their 3A 3B “it’s for the children” tax increase campaign. Have Jefferson County residents become immune to this process, or do they continue to ignore what they do not know? All of these elected officials have been heavily endorsed and supported by the teachers union.

This is a blatant display of all that works against good teachers, none of which ties good achievement results with outstanding teachers and is consistently working against kids and parents. These situations lend hand to adults padding each other’s pockets, wallets, businesses, election retention, and political showboating. All of this in public education, being negotiated behind closed doors, behind parent’s backs, and in spite of the taxpayer. It is very clear what is going on in Jefferson County- and it doesn't involve kid's.

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