Officials from Jeffco Public Schools have agreed to $19.5 million in pay increases for teachers next year.

Under the plan, employees who have “demonstrated effective performance,” will receive a step increase. Step increases are salary raises given after completing a year of work, and dependent on years in the district. Teachers who are effective and have earned graduate-level credits will receive a “level increase.” Districts officials said they could not immediately answer whether teachers could get both.

And all employees covered under the contract will get a cost-of-living increase of 1 percent, or 2 percent if state funding permits.

The agreement, reached this week, still has to be ratified by the teacher’s union members and then the school board must vote to approve it.

The Jeffco school board directed staff months ago to find a way to increase competitive pay for teachers. A tax increase request from the district that voters turned down in November would have included $12 million for salary increases, but after that was defeated, staff proposed a series of budget cuts that would free up funding for the salary increases.

Board members ultimately voted on a scaled back proposal of cuts after the superintendent at the last minute said the district could, for now, use $9 million in retirement savings and $11 million in reductions from central staff to pay for salary increases.

“We are pleased at the collaborative efforts that went into this agreement,” Ron Mitchell, the school board president, said in a statement. “One of our board goals has been to make our salaries more competitive. Though we have limited resources, this agreement demonstrates our commitment to our teachers and should help us be more competitive in today’s market. We have had to tighten our belts, but we’ve been able to accomplish this without making serious cuts to programs that directly impact our students.”

Jeffco staff has told the school board that the district’s salaries are competitive in some cases, but not for mid-career teachers. Staff and principals detailed concerns that experienced teachers were leaving the district.

According to state turnover data, Jeffco’s teacher turnover rate this year is just over 14 percent. That was an increase over last year but but still well below turnover rates in districts such as Denver, Westminster, Aurora and Douglas County.

Also as part of the $19.5 million agreement, experienced teachers new to Jeffco will be compensated for up to six years of experience, up from a maximum of five years now.