JEFFERSON COUNTY - 9NEWS received a lot of emails from viewers concerning what is going on with the Jefferson County School District.
9NEWS Education Reporter Nelson Garcia looked into the angst-filled and drama-focused debate between the teachers' union and the recently-elected school-board majority.
Over the past few months, the teachers' union - the Jefferson County Education Association - members and supporters have turned out in force at the Jefferson County School Board meetings. Thursday night's meeting at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood was no exception.
Union leaders say nearly 1,000 teachers showed up to attend the meeting and called for transparency from the recently-elected board majority.
Many of them were frustrated and were forced to be in the halls because the auditorium was full and there was no overflow room for people who wanted to hear what was happening at the meeting.
Over the past few months, the union and the school district have been trying to new negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement which expires in 2015.
But, those negotiations have not gone well, and union members believe that Jefferson County is going down the same path of Douglas County - where conservative members also control the school board.
In Douglas County, the collective-bargaining agreement was not renewed, taking power away from the union and creating a pay-for-performance system based on evaluations.
Over the past several weeks, JeffCo teachers have been working to the letter of their contracts, walking into school together at the beginning of the school day and leaving together right after students are dismissed as a show of protest against the direction of the new board majority.
JeffCo teachers also say they want an expansion of full-day kindergarten across the district and want answers as to why school board members Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk hired their own attorney to represent the board.
School board politics are emotional. What's making this situation so volatile is the question of whether the JeffCo teachers' union will lose its influence, like it did in Douglas County.
Since their campaigns, the three new board members have emphasized school choice - which includes more support for charter schools - and they each vowed to seek greater input from the community.
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