You are currently viewing What will happen to Jeffco teachers in schools that may close?

What will happen to Jeffco teachers in schools that may close?

More than 400 Jeffco teachers and other school staff who work at 16 elementary schools that could close at the end of the school year must reapply for jobs if the closures are approved and they want to stay in the district. in the future.

It’s the consequence of a 2010 Colorado state law that some educators in the metropolitan district fear will kick teachers and other employees out of Jeffco public schools after the school year ends.

“I’m afraid people are leaving the profession and leaving just because of this and we’re losing some really good educators because they don’t want to jump through those hoops just to keep those jobs at Jeffco,” Brooke said. Williams, president of the Jefferson County Education Association. “It has the potential to have huge ramifications.”

District leaders last week announced recommendations to close 16 elementary schools, many of which are serving far fewer students than their capacity and also enrolling children from low-income families.

The proposals were largely driven by declining enrollment in Jeffco public schools — a trend other districts across the state and nation are experiencing, as lower birth rates mean fewer children in the halls. of class. The school board will vote on the recommendations in November, and if it approves the closures, students attending those schools will be redirected to other nearby schools identified by the district, Chalkbeat Colorado reported.

Meanwhile, 422 staff members – including 188 teachers – will need to polish their resumes and hone their interview skills if they wish to remain in the district at another school.

Both non-trainee staff members, i.e. employees who have been deemed effective and in good standing, and trainee staff members, which refer to employees who may be facing a performance improvement plan or employees who have not yet completed three years and completed the onboarding process to obtain licensure, will need to reapply for new jobs in the district, according to district spokeswoman Kimberly Eloe. Those in good standing will be guaranteed a job they qualify for at Jeffco Public Schools for the 2023-24 school year, even if it’s not a job they want long-term. However, while trainee teachers will have the opportunity to apply for jobs in the district, if they are not hired, their contract will not be renewed for the 2023-24 school year.

The requirement for employees to apply for other positions in the district is also set forth in Jeffco public school contracts with the JCEA, the local teachers’ union, and the Jeffco Education Support Professionals Association to reflect a law of the State-driven effectiveness and evaluations of educators.

“I think it needs to be completely rewritten or redone,” Williams said. “We’re all for accountability, but it deters people from getting into education and staying in education.”

The district’s human resources team, which has approximately 69,000 students and approximately 14,000 employees, will help relevant staff write their resumes and prepare for interviews when applying for jobs for the 2023 school year- 2024, Eloe said. The district, which has a capacity to educate about 96,000 students, will also pay for any educators interested in returning to school to earn endorsements that will qualify them for hard-to-fill positions, including in special education and high school math and science.

Eloe said the district, which currently has 410 total vacancies, including 89 teachers, will have a great need for teachers and support staff throughout the district for the next school year, especially in schools with students. moved. Staff members whose schools are closing can be hired at the schools their students are moving to, Eloe noted.

“It’s not a guarantee, but we believe there will definitely be opportunities for those who are interested in doing so,” she said.

The district, in partnership with local unions, is also considering reviewing internal candidates only for the next school year before adding external candidates to the hiring pipeline, Eloe said, adding that the district may begin its process. hiring in December, at least a month earlier. than usual.

“It’s very difficult work,” she said. “School closures and consolidations are some of the toughest work any school district will engage its community in, and we are acutely aware of the difficulty of these changes.”

Parr Elementary School is one of several schools in Jefferson County Public Schools that could close in 2023. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

Amy Kamb has seen the devastating toll of a possible closure of the Parr Elementary School where she works, which is hiring employees, especially long-time staffers and even an educator who has spent her entire career at the school. elementary Arvada.

“We were all hoping it wouldn’t be us, even though we knew it was a possibility,” said Kamb, a K-3 reading teacher in her third year at Parr Elementary School. “Until we heard the words, we hoped we would be saved, and I’m sure the other 15 schools thought the same. It was a very shocking and sad moment for the staff.

Kamb plans to apply for another job in the district after nearly two decades in classrooms in Vermont and Colorado so he can help students who struggle with reading, especially those from low-income backgrounds. The hardest part for Jeffco educators will be watching, waiting and asking questions, she said, because the district may not have the latest details on staffing or budgets. schools before next year. Some educators are worried about whether there will be positions for them as schools consolidate, Kamb said. Others may be attracted by better pay to other school districts or to jobs outside of education.

For now, teachers and staff at Parr Elementary School need to mask their emotions for the sake of their students and focus on their learning throughout the first few weeks of school, Kamb said.

They hope the district will support them as they deal with the stress of having to find another job, she said, “while maintaining our professional smiles in front of our children and doing their best for now, which we all will because that’s who we are.

Chris Cottingham is among Parr Elementary School teachers who have already decided to leave Jeffco Public Schools if the board approves the closures — even after Cottingham attended Parr Elementary School as a student, himself, with his brother, his mother and his aunt.

The first-grade teacher, who now works alongside one of his own teachers, grapples with both grief and frustration as the threat of closure looms over his school, a place that does so much more than educating students.

“It’s the cornerstone of our community, and I think there’s sadness in seeing that go away,” said Cottingham, who noted that most of the school’s students come from low-income homes. and depend on the school for essentials like transportation and clothing.

Having to reapply for district jobs is causing anxiety among teachers, many of whom are already on the verge of leaving, Cottingham said. He plans to pursue a career in teaching, but hopes to teach somewhere closer to home in Aurora, where his two sons attend school.

But the thought of the permanent closure of the primary school in Parr brings her to the verge of tears.

“It’s the loss of a piece of the community,” he said.

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