So you're filling out your ballot, looking over the information, and find yourself scratching your head over competing claims in the county blue book (which happens to have a white cover this year). First, note that in the FAQ section, the Jeffco Schools future funding website states, "The comments accepted [for the blue book] are not verified." Sometimes this creates a little bit of confusion.
In this post, we'll address some of the confusion about competitive compensation.
One of the major benefits of Jeffco Schools 5A, the $33 million mill levy override, is that it will increase compensation to keep the best educators and staff in Jeffco.
How much of 5A will go to increase compensation?
50 percent of 5A will be used to offer competitive compensation.
You can verify that information on page 2 of the district's 5A & 5B factual information booklet, and on our Mill Levy Override Basics page. Jeffco Schools also posted a graph showing how they will split 5A dollars under ""Specific 2018 Mill/Bond Questions" on their FAQ page.
Does Jeffco Schools offer competitive salaries currently?
Not when it comes to experienced teachers, many of whom can make $10,000 more annually by driving to Boulder or Denver. 5A will help address the disparities to attract and retain the best teachers in Jeffco.
Our Competitive Teacher Salaries page explains how Jeffco compares to neighboring districts in more detail.
This Arvada Press article also explains the issue, noting "According to the Colorado Department of Education, the average teacher salary in Jeffco for 2017-18 was $57,154, which is lower than four of the six surrounding districts. The lack in compensation potentially making it hard for the district to attract and retain quality teachers."
The Jefferson County Administrators Association Board of Directors also talks about how hard it is to hire educators when we don't offer competitive salaries in this letter.
Will any of the 5A money be used for senior administration salaries?
No, no 5A dollars will be used for senior administration salaries, including those of the superintendent and his cabinet.
NO REVENUE FROM SUCH TAXES WILL BE USED FOR SENIOR DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION, AND THE SPENDING OF SUCH TAXES FOR THE BENEFIT OF DISTRICT STUDENTS WILL BE REVIEWED BY THE CITIZENS’ FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY AND SUBJECTED TO AN ANNUAL INDEPENDENT AUDIT;
For more information about Jeffco Schools administration, please read our post, Let's Talk administration, part 1.
But what about PERA?
There's often a lot of confusion about PERA (Public Employees' Retirement Association), the state-mandated substitute for Social Security required for all Colorado school districts.
Here are the facts:
- Boulder, Denver, Littleton, Cherry Creek and Douglas County also pay into PERA at the very same rates as Jeffco — and still pay their teachers more. To keep the best teachers here, Jeffco needs 5A to increase salaries.
- A defeated mill levy override will limit Jeffco's ability to offer competitive salaries to educators.
- Currently, Jeffco pays 20.15 percent of salaries into PERA as the employer contribution. Employees contribute 8 percent. State law requires these amounts to increase to 20.40 percent and 8.75 percent on July 1, 2019. As a result, all Colorado school districts — not just Jeffco — will pay an additional .25 percent of salaries toward PERA in 2019-20.
- Jeffco will pay the additional PERA rates regardless of whether 5A passes. 5A will allow Jeffco to offer more competitive compensation because every Colorado school district will also be paying the additional rates, but 5A will provide additional funding to increase salaries.
- Voting yes on 5A will allow Jeffco Schools to use 50 percent of 5A to offer more competitive compensation, while also using using 20 percent of 5A and to increase safety and security, 10 percent to expand STEM and career/tech programming, 10 percent to update textbooks and technology, and 10 percent to expand full-day early education. All 5A dollars also benefit and are shared equally with Jeffco's charter schools.
Please vote YES on 5A and 5B, and remember to drop off your ballot by Nov. 6 at any of the county ballot boxes or voting locations.