A Tentative Agreement is good but there’s more work to do

At the Thursday, May 3rd Jeffco School Board meeting, Jeffco Exec. Director of HR Amy Weber, shared information regarding a tentative bargaining agreement, contingent on any significant changes coming from the end of the Legislative Session.

Steps & Levels for all teachers

3% COLA

These changes (COLA), once finalized,  will be extended to other Jeffco employee groups .  Even with this agreement, board members expressed their concern that Jeffco has fallen so far behind other neighboring districts, this increase still has the district behind – but slowly catching up.

There are those in our community who will twist this information to imply this agreement elevates our Jeffco teachers and staff salaries to be higher than what they really are.  We urge you to remember, the average salary for a Jeffco teacher is $57,000.

“On average, teachers in Boulder make more than any other teachers statewide, $75,000 per year. Cherry Creek is second paying teachers an average of $71,000. Littleton is third paying its teachers $66,000.”

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/04/16/interactive-map-teacher-salaries-colorado/

As we already shared, many of our Jeffco teachers are barely getting by.

http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/my-teacher-my-waitress/

“…several are working second and third jobs. Unless they’ve been lucky enough to marry well and their spouse makes enough to support a career in education as philanthropy! (Can you even believe that’s a thing for a professional in 2018?)

Additionally, The Denver Channel (7) interviewed “…a second-year teacher and said she makes an annual salary of $42,000, which is not nearly enough to pay for rent or thousands of dollars she owes in student loans.” https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/jefferson-county-teacher-moonlights-at-dental-office-to-pay-bills

This continues to be a national crisis.  In a recent national survey  https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-polls/npr-teachers-survey-may-2-2018

“…a majority of teachers (59%) report having worked a second job to make ends meet, and nearly half (46%) have run up debt to do the same. In the last year alone, more than 1 in 3 teachers (36%) has run up debt to make ends meet. Teachers also express discontent with the resources available to them: 86% say that over the course of their career they have purchased school supplies with their own money, and more than three-quarters (77%) report devoting their own time outside of school hours to help students.”

And, we can’t look at teacher pay alone.   With the booming economy Colorado currently enjoys, the housing market is skyrocketing – and so are the prices – both rental rates and home prices.

Recently published rates (Median) for 2 Bedroom apartment in the metro area range from $1,320 the low in Denver to $1,970 the high in Lone Tree.

The Jeffco areas included, Arvada, Golden, Westminster where rental rates ranged from $1510, $1520 to $1570, respectively.  (Source:  ApartmentList – Channel Denver7)

The Median single-family home prices for the Denver/Aurora/Lakewood area are at $414,000 per The National Association of Realtors (2017 Last Quarter).  https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/metro-home-prices-q4-2017-single-family-2018-02-13.pdf

We are hopeful the “tentative bargaining agreement” for our Jeffco teachers and staff will be implemented as-is, without any negative changes.   Our Jeffco educators need to be able to afford to live in the community where they teach.  We still have ground to cover to make that real for more than a few.

We can all do something now that will fix this.  A long term fix.  Great Schools, Thriving Communities (aka Initiative #93) can help us do that.  This will raise $1.6 Billion for public schools in Colorado.  It still won’t bring us to the national average, but it will make up for the Negative Factor/B.S. Factor plus some; and  92% of Colorado filers won’t be impacted by this incremental tax increase.  We need to get it on the ballot first.

Step up and help us make this dream of finally truly funding our public schools.  Sign a petition, carry a petition, volunteer or donate to the cause.