5/26/2020 – The next 30 days, the three big issues.

We hope you had a restful Memorial Day weekend, and we remember those who have served and sacrificed.

The countdown to Colorado’s finalized budget has begun as legislators return to the Capitol.          TEXT CEA TO 69886  for daily funding action updates

You made it happen! As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, we appreciate you and hope you will stick with us through a few more weeks of incredibly important decision making.

JCEA members, alongside educators from across the state of Colorado are in for some tough work before the end of June.

We have three main focuses for the next month:

  1. School funding at the State and National levels. Colorado’s lawmakers return to the Capitol TODAY to hash out the budget. K-12 education is facing proposed cuts which would add to the BS factor for over 1 Billion in lost funding. CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert reacts
  2. Our own JCEA negotiations. With so much up in the air in terms of funding, discussions of compensation have not yet begun, and the language has been slow going. We have one scheduled session this week, and additional dates will be announced shortly. Watch bargaining tomorrow here: https://bit.ly/JCEA_Barg_5_27
  3. Jeffco’s draft re-entry plan. We have been flooded with questions, concerns and ideas. Keep them coming! On Friday afternoon the district released an updated draft of possible re-entry and that plan is open for another round of feedback. The latest draft plan can be found here: https://www.jeffcopublicschools.org/restart_jeffco

Please take the time to review this plan and submit feedback in all of the available ways. JCEA has opened a response form in addition to the staff and parent feedback systems provided by the district. Your voices matter! Submit Re-entry feedback to JCEA here.

JCEA Virtual Town Hall –

Last Thursday JCEA hosted its first Virtual Town Hall and it was a hit! Thank you to everyone who joined us!

Find our Funding slide deck HERE.

More than 95% of participants said they found the information and updates valuable and said they would like to see more Virtual Town Halls in the future. Save the date for our next Virtual Town Hall Friday June 5th at 1:00 pm.

Everyone who attended committed to take action for five minutes a day – If we all do a little, we can achieve big things!

Join them in making this commitment today! Sign up here: https://bit.ly/JCEA_June_Actions

School funding –

Last Monday, Governor Polis (Gov’s press release here). allocating federal CARES Act funding to education. Please see below for a budget and bargaining update given this announcement.

Our Pressure is Working!

Over the last several weeks, JCEA and CEA members across the state have been putting intense pressure on our legislature to protect education funding via letters to legislators and virtual educator round-tables. As a result, the governor agreed to put $510 million of federal relief money toward K-12 education. While this will not affect the BS Factor, it does provide some immediate relief to districts.

What does the $510 Million Mean for Jeffco?

Roughly $40M in unanticipated, immediate funding that was not accounted for in their tentative budgets. This is “one-time” money that must be spent by December 2020, and therefore is NOT a solution for anticipated shortfalls in future years. CDE suggested that the money can provide “support for Colorado’s workforce by providing instruction, facilitating distance learning and mitigating lost learning” (Source: CDE Email Update, May 19, 2020).

Total Federal Funds to K-12 Education to date: $631 million

State Budget Update

The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) met to discuss new recommendations for the school finance portion of the long bill and suggestions for the School Finance Act. JBC staff have suggested that given the anticipated remaining revenue shortfall for FY 2020-21 of more than $2.05 billion, holding the budget stabilization factor constant is probably not possible. Read more about the JBC’s cuts HERE.

That doesn’t mean we stop fighting. We need to be engaged now more than ever because this fight now moves to protect the School Finance Act. The governor’s announcement shows that our pressure can win real results for education. We must increase our actions in order to influence the budget and assure our students are returning to the fully funded schools they deserve.

Next Steps for Direct Action

Now is the time to keep the pressure on your locals’ legislators as well as the legislators drafting the School Finance Act: Speaker KC Becker, Representative Barb McLaughlin, Senator Nancy Todd, and Senator Paul Lundeen. You can find CEA political updates HERE.

Finally, please call (303) 622-3968, and follow the prompts to be connected with your legislator to say NO to further cuts to education, refer initiative 271 to the ballot, and support an emergency tax relief measure that will provide an additional 600 million dollars into the state budget while cutting taxes for 95% of Coloradans.

Bargaining update: The Quick cut

Our Union members and team want consistency, Jeffco management wants flexibility.

During bargaining this week almost 200 of you tuned in and it was powerful. When the JCEA bargaining team announced that we had so many people watching, management challenged us by saying less than 50 people were watching. When we explained our Facebook Live event, the management team was clearly rattled.

Can you imagine what 300 or 400 or 500 folks watching would feel like?

Join us virtually for bargaining tomorrow starting at 5:00 pm HERE.

It sounds like sick leave bank is nearly done and the people would like to see the final document ASAP. Click HERE for a link to the current draft language.

When both sides are ready straw design* works really well, but JCEA’s team is not ready to straw design Article 8 just yet. Much of the language that we (JCEA) bring to bargaining is specific because our members do not see our contract applied evenly across the district. Management feels that flexibility in interpretation is needed because every situation is different.

JCEA feels we have numerous instances of SBB, teacher and student discipline issues that vary wildly and are completely dependent on the personalities involved and not the facts. How can we ensure equity in our district for all our students with such variation? Short answer- we can’t and management thinks that’s just fine.

Sick leave bank – we are close, we have almost reached consensus on this issue. Straw design* outcomes:

  • Sick leave bank could be used for on-again-off-again medical issues, such as cancer treatments
  • Aside from personal sickness or injury, teachers would only be able to use 10 sick bank days to care for severely ill children, and only within their first 3 years as JPS employees, as HR believes that 3 years is enough time for employees to accrue enough sick and personal days

 

Class Size & Caseload

  • The management team described that sometimes, due to the logistics of scheduling, the only place a kid will fit is into a class that will put a teacher over their class size or caseload, and that teachers just need to be flexible and accept it.
  • The management team also hid behind the budget, stating that SBB (student- based budgeting) simply does not allow them flexibility to fund as many sections as needed, and that because of the COVID-19 impact on the 20-21 budget, they are unwilling to commit to anything that could increase costs.
  • The management team also stated that they “hadn’t heard” from principals that caseloads for our counselors and special service providers are too large, so in their opinion, it’s not really an issue. (We have heard broadly that this IS an issue)
  • The JCEA team reiterated our interest that class sizes and caseloads should be an enforceable policy in our contract, not simply suggested guidelines, which are open to interpretation and misapplications by school administrators.
  • As teachers, we love our students and we will do anything to help them, including occasionally accepting students that put us over our caseload or class size, if it truly is in the child’s best interests.
  • However, we stand firm in the belief that teachers should have a choice in whether or not to accept additional students into overcrowded classrooms and to have clear numbers that delineate appropriate class sizes and caseloads in our contract language!
  • Maybe central administration is unaware, but we teachers know that our classrooms are already large and full of students with diverse learning needs and educational plans.
  • We also know that many our counselors, learning specialists, and special service providers are overwhelmed by their caseloads and lack of resources.
  • At the end of the day, we believe the district should better manage their money in order to provide ALL of our students the education they deserve, with manageable class sizes and caseloads for our teachers and SSPs. It is unfair that their problem becomes our students’ and educators’ problems!

“Innovation” Language – getting closer, we may move to straw design* soon to wrap up this language.

*Straw design means a smaller blended group of JCEA team members and district management members working deeply on a single issue. Both teams must agree to a straw design on an issue, and the smaller group reports their results and recommendations to the larger group for discussion before moving anything forward.

 

  • The JCEA team reiterated our interests in…
    • Notification from the district of any “innovation” plans in development
    • Notifications of any upcoming “innovation” status votes
    • The ability to access and educate teachers in buildings about any contract rights they would be giving up before they vote on “innovation” status
    • Ensuring proper protocols for a fair “innovation” status vote
    • Review of any contract waivers during an “innovation” school’s 3-year review
  • The JCEA team also has concerned about how “innovation” status schools have negatively impacted students and teachers in neighboring districts

Remember: “innovation” status, with the waiver of parts (or all) of our contract, is the “foot-in-the-door” that privatizers use to erode our contract and our collective power!

Many of you have asked: Why are we bargaining “innovation” language?

By law, if a school district has even ONE “innovation” school, it becomes an “innovation district” and must bargain language into any negotiated agreement. Jeffco allowed a charter school, Free Horizon Montessori, to become a district “option school” and it wanted to be an “innovation” school. It moved into the old “Pleasant View” elementary building. The school opted out totally of the JCEA negotiated agreement.

JCEA was not consulted or even notified of this action until it was completed. Now we have to come to an agreement on a process.

In addition, in the state accountability system, if a school “runs out the clock” it is forced to take one of a few options, one of which is to become an “innovation” school. As an “innovation” school it can waive out of some state rules, district rules, and parts (or all parts) of a negotiated agreement. Otherwise it can close, convert to a charter, or be managed by an outside management company. This is what’s happening to the whole school district in Commerce City.

Jeffco does have some schools on the accountability clock that might have to look at “innovation” status.

JCEA wants to be notified of any plans for a school to become an “innovation” school, to participate in discussions of creating a plan, and to be assured the vote of the staff is fair and aboveboard. That is what we are fighting for.

Teacher & Student Discipline (Article 9)

  • The management team opened with a couple anecdotes, both of which had similar messages. Principals believe that they need the flexibility and discretion to reprimand teachers in the same way that they reprimand students, based upon subjective and relational criteria (“frequency, duration, intensity, and context”). The principals don’t want to be “bound” by formal language.
  • The management team also stated that they already have the “CPI” de-escalation and behavior management training “available” for teachers. They also stated that the training will protect teachers from reprimand, as long as they are following its guidelines.
  • However, any training, no matter the quality, doesn’t do any good if it is simply “available”! How many of you have been CPI trained? How many of you have even heard of it?
  • The management team also believes that our student discipline matrix is robust and effective, and admitted that any shortcomings with it are due to misapplication from principals and staff who are not well-trained in it. How many of you have had success using the discipline matrix in your buildings? How many of you have been trained in it?
  • The JCEA team reiterated our interest in having clear, consistent, and objectively-applied discipline procedures for teachers, as well as students.
  • It seems clear from our negotiations that district management understands that our principals and staff are not receiving adequate and consistent training and supports for student and staff discipline. That raises the question of “why?”.

 

Once again, their problems become our problems! We know consistency and access to a fair process are critically important to our educator’s success!

Tomorrow is our next scheduled bargaining session and we need you to show up for our team and our goals. Join us virtually from the comfort of home by clicking HERE.