Anchorage School District, teachers agree to tentative contract

The Anchorage School District and Anchorage Education Association have tentatively agreed to a three-year contract.
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 10:00 AM AKST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2022 at 9:29 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District and Anchorage Education Association have tentatively agreed to a three-year contract, pending approval by the teachers union and school board.

Anchorage educators had been without a contract for over six months, since July 1. The tentative agreement reached by the school district and the teacher’s union’s bargaining team is backdated to July 1, 2021, and extends through June 30, 2024. The school district and Anchorage Education Association President Corey Aist issued a joint press release on Friday.

“In the end, I think the collaborative process we engaged in was worth the effort, and the result is an agreement that the AEA bargaining team whole-heartedly endorses and that will support increasing student outcomes,” Aist said in the release.

The tentative agreement includes:

  • Salary increases for all educators, especially in the first year of the contract
  • A simplified, restructured salary schedule
  • Opportunities for educators in the defined contribution tier of the state’s retirement system (Tier III) to contribute a supplemental retirement plan
  • Clarified expectations relating to grading, educator planning time, and meeting duration and frequency

“First, I want to thank our educators for their continued unwavering dedication to our students; especially during these challenging times,” Superintendent Deena Bishop said in a press release. “Second, I want to thank the negotiation teams for their dedication in finding the necessary common ground throughout this process. The resulting agreement recognizes educators with a generous compensation and benefits package. It also provides clarity regarding working conditions that I think will benefit not only educators and administrators but also our students, families, and other community stakeholders.”

The release states that Anchorage educators are set to hold a ratification vote in the middle of February and that the school board would consider a ratified agreement for approval at their Feb. 22 meeting.

In an interview Friday, Bishop addressed some of the challenges in reaching the agreement. She said the district is happy to have a three-year contract that should bring stability for teachers.

“The actual contract adds not only salary increases as the beginning of the contract to be able to really attract good talent, but also to retain our talent and add that to the end as well,” Bishop said. “... And that was all done through really a salary adjustment as well as an adjustment of the actual scale, and we’re honoring additional education courses that teachers take, things like that, to really demonstrate high quality is valued in ASD.”

The entire process took about 10 months, Bishop said. In the plan, she said one thing the district was seeking was “long-term stability.”

“Of course anyone can look at the, you know, initial offers to see that they were quite a bit apart, but again just like any negotiation, that it takes both sides coming to the middle and understanding the impetus for the ask, if you will, whether it’s language or resources,” she said. “But I think we’ve come to a great agreement.”

Both sides met with a federal mediator for five days, and they were asked to meet one more time. During their last meeting with the mediator, they were able to strike an agreement.

“Educators have been working really hard for the community, for our students, and our families,” Aist said. “Hopefully, this gives them something to look forward to and encourages them to stay as educators in Anchorage and not look to other locations.”

The three-year agreement salary increases are 2% for the first and third years. The second-year is a 1.5% raise and a $1,000 bonus, according to Aist.

Reporter Patrick Enslow Contributed to this story.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information and quotes from Superintendent Deena Bishop and Anchorage Education Association President Corey Aist.

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