Teacher Contract Talks May Go Public

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Contract talks between public school districts and unions would be open to the public, under a bill that passed its final committee in the state House Thursday.

Here’s a transcript of a report from Colorado Public Radio’s education reporter Jenny Brundin:

Reporter Jenny Brundin: About a quarter of Colorado’s 178 school districts participate in collective bargaining, but most have closed negotiations. Littleton Republican Kathleen Conti told the committee, her constituents want to know districts’ priorities and what items are negotiable.

Kathleen Conti: Transparency in the proceedings, versus simply reporting the results, give the public a great confidence in the process.

Reporter: But Democrat Lois Court of Denver said a state mandate would go against Colorado’s tradition of local control.

Lois Court: When this is not what the school board members or the superintendents want, why should we in the legislature force this upon them?

Reporter: The state’s largest state teacher’s union, the Colorado Education Association, doesn't want it either. The group fears public negotiations would hamper open communication between districts and the union. But a string of citizens and a representative for media outlets testified for the bill. Committee members voted 5-4 to send it to the House floor.

[Photo: CPR]