What does Jeffco have to look forward to? Please note that in the paragraph below, “DCSD” refers to Douglas County School District:
With stress comes lowered immune systems and more illnesses. Stress compromises the immune system. According to The American Institute of Stress, workplace stress is associated with “ . . . having little control but lots of demands–” which sounds like the definition of working in the Douglas County School District.
DCSD updated their Board Policy this year. The policy states that “Employees who expect to be absent from work for more than three (3) consecutive days should discuss their circumstances with the Benefits Department to determine if a leave of absence is appropriate for the absence situation.” If a teacher has the flu, for example, and really needs five days to fully recuperate, having to apply for a leave of absence after the third day might be motivation to return to work ill.
Additionally, several schools are piloting a program (Substitute Budget Pilot 2014-15) where participating schools are given a lump sum to pay for subs for the year. If the schools don’t spend all of the lump sum, they get to keep the remaining money at the end of the year.
Teachers have shared with us that they feel pressured not use their sick days–knowing that essentially, every day “costs” their school directly. And with schools continuing to ask parents for direct donations and holding “fun-runs” and other events to pay for running their schools, this money is quite the carrot for both principals and staff.
We’ve already begun to see the trend in Jeffco. Sub days have been going unfilled in many schools. The Board majority is now examining alternative licensure options. Families are questioning the decision to move into the District. Veteran employees are being harassed and leaving and their positions are being filled by people with ties to Douglas County Schools or the Leadership Program of the Rockies. Veteran classroom teachers and administrators are leaving, and the Board majority is proposing raising starting salaries to “attract” the best and the brightest. This is all part of the DougCo formula, this is all work that has been done before, and is now being done at warp speed here in Jeffco.
With Student Based Budgeting (SBB) coming to Jeffco schools next year, and with “innovative” ideas on spending, building use, transportation, evaluating and educating being what the Board demands, it will be interesting to see the language that comes up in of the “master agreement” employees will be signing next Fall. Given the failure of last years negotiations, and given that the Jeffco superintendent already has experience with failing at collective bargaining, there will be NO surprise that no, new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be reached, and that the language in the District’s “master agreement” regarding sick leave and personal leave will look eerily similar to the above.
This is a Board majority that refuses to discuss with the media, the public, or it’s own stakeholders, its real intentions. So, we are only left to speculate. Will we be at all surprised when buildings are “allotted” sick leave money? Will it be any surprise when employees are stipulated to use this “building money” first, instead of their accumulated sick leave? The hours, days, and weeks that employees have accumulated, will no longer be directly accessible, and this new “accounting” may in fact work as a punitive instrument, to “track” and judge teachers. If you are “discouraged” from taking days off, then you in fact effectively lose the time you have accumulated.
So much for “retaining” the best and brightest. Jeffco has historically recorded low turnover rates. According to CDE data, Jeffco has been WELL below the State turnover rate, which Douglas County is NOW exceeding. For the 2013/2014 school year, Jeffco stood at 10.01% the State average was 16.65% and with Douglas County sitting at 17.28%. Of course the interesting trend in all of this is that Jeffco’s data shows a trend down in the three school years examined, with Douglas County at the highpoint of a three-year trend up.
Again, what does Jeffco have to look forward to as the Board majority and the superintendent continue to meet secretly, withhold their future plans, take outside advice from people with little to know education experience, and hire either those with limited education experience or who will only corroborate their world view. According to The American Institute of Stress, workplace stress is associated with “ . . . having little control but lots of demands–”
Summit Ridge Middle School
19 Year Jeffco Teacher
21 Year Public School Teacher