New contracts give Summit County teachers raises, additional work day |

New contracts give Summit County teachers raises, additional work day

The Summit School District Board of Education approved its new master contract agreement for teachers, which will be effective Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2024.

The contract negotiating team consisted of teachers, district human resources staff, other administrative staff, the school board president and a representative from Ski Country UniServ, which is a local affiliate of the Colorado Education Association.

Chief Finance Officer Kara Drake led the negotiations team and presented the major changes in the contract to the school board for approval at its June 17 meeting.

Drake said the contract was ratified by membership of the teachers union, and the negotiating team met seven or eight times to work through the details of the contract.

The biggest change for teachers comes in their salary, as a two-year plan was outlined to get the starting salary to $50,000. Base salaries for the upcoming school years will increase from $44,530 to $48,500. Discussions regarding salary for the 2023-24 school year will be reopened and finalized closer to the start of that year.

The new contract also accepts recommendations from the health benefits committee to remain self-insured with a plan through Cigna. Total health benefit costs have increased by $804,000, according to the presentation. To make up for this, the district increased employer contributions by 25%, and employee contributions will increase 10%.

Policies surrounding academic freedom were also updated in the contract to align with the district’s equity policy. If teaching within the scope of board policy or adopted curriculum, teachers will not be disciplined while teaching potentially controversial topics or expressing opinions as long as:

  • They present a lesson consistent with recognized and accredited scholarship on the topic
  • They use materials relevant to the levels of ability and maturity of the students
  • They maintain a classroom environment conducive to the free exchange and examination of ideas

The contract also states that should teachers identify themselves as district employees on social media, they should ensure content is consistent with the work of the district. Otherwise, teachers “have the right to fully participate in the political process in the same manner as other members of the public without discrimination, intimidation or retaliation,” the contract reads.

The team also changed a few items in the contract regarding leave.

Drake said there has always been a provision that says teachers should not take leave within the first or last 10 days of the school year, or adjacent to any school breaks, to keep teachers in front of students as much as possible.

Now, the language around significant events for which teachers can take leave has been changed. Drake said the language was broadened to include any significant event, which will be subject to approval from a supervisor and human resources.

In addition, the maternity and paternity leave policy now permits both parents to take time off if they are both employed by the district. Both parents are allowed to take a maximum of 14 consecutive days concurrently unless there are extenuating circumstances.

In the meeting, Drake said the change is an attempt to “strike a nice balance” between giving families time together while not straining the district to cover classrooms.

The contract also changed the process for approving leave from its sick leave bank, which is used once any district staff member uses all personal leave but still cannot return to work. Previously, there was a committee that approved the use of these days, but now it will go straight to human resources with documentation from a doctor.

Teachers will also gain additional professional development work days and hours. One day was added to the beginning of the school year for professional development, and two student contact days will become professional development days.

The Professional Learning Communities days will be switched from Mondays to Wednesdays, as Drake said the schools enjoyed having this setup with hybrid learning amid the pandemic last school year. Drake said bell schedules from Mondays and Wednesdays will be switched.

Another change was made relating to outcomes for negotiations processes. The Contract Maintenance Team will be replaced by the Labor Management Committee, which will review cases of the master contract not being followed or adhered to.

Board President Kate Hudnut said in the June 17 meeting that her time working with the negotiations committee taught her more about public education than she’s ever learned before and that it was a fascinating and rewarding experience.

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