Anchorage teachers union, school district start bargaining far apart

Rosemary Shinohara

The Anchorage teachers union and the school district made public each of their contract proposals Thursday, and they appear far apart.

The two sides began bargaining for a new teacher contract on Wednesday. The existing three-year contract will expire June 30. Negotiations will be private until near the end of the process, though each side's initial proposal can be seen on the union and district web sites.

The district's first proposal offers limited raises during the first year of a three-year-contract, and calls for a freeze on salaries after that.

The union, the Anchorage Education Association, proposes a one-year contract. And during that year, the union wants the district to raise base pay and credit teachers with two years of experience -- and raise their pay commensurately.

Teachers are traditionally paid based on a combination of experience and how much college education they have. The current salary schedule starts at $46,979 for a teacher with no experience and a bachelor's degree. It tops out at $86,471 for those with doctoral degrees, maximum college credits, and 20 years' experience.

Raises based on experience and education can be substantial. For example, the first-year, bachelor-degree teacher earning $46,979 would get an additional $1,275 the second year for experience. If he or she earned 18 approved college credits beyond the bachelor's degree, add another $2,341 for a second-year salary of $50,595.

The district's initial offer is to keep base salaries the same for the next three school years, but allow teachers to move up one level for experience and one level for education, if they qualify. That movement would be offered in the 2013-2014 school year only. After that, salaries would be frozen.

The union's first offer seeks raises to base pay that would bring the starting salary up $470 to $47,449, and the top salary up $1,427 to $88,198. It calls for the district to give teachers credit for two years of experience in one year, plus any raises earned by adding college credits.

"It is normal that we're pretty far apart in the beginning," union president Andy Holleman said. "Nobody really thinks they're going to win fully on any article (section of the contract). That's where the hard work of bargaining is going to come in."

The union often starts out offering a one-year proposal, he said.

He said he couldn't talk about specifics of the contract.

School Board president Jeannie Mackie said at a press briefing Wednesday that during the last set of negotiations, in 2010, the two sides were initially "pretty far away."

But the 2010 negotiations ended amicably.

An Anchorage School District spokeswoman said Thursday district officials will not comment on the initial proposals.

The Anchorage Education Association represents 3,500 teachers, counselors, librarians and school nurses.

Negotiations are beginning at the same time as the School Board is working on a budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The district gets most of its money from the state. School officials expect no increase in state funding, they say, which will mean a $25 million shortfall to maintain current staffing and services.


Reach Rosemary Shinohara at or 257-4340.


Copies of initial proposals by the teachers union and Anchorage School District are available on their web sites:



Teachers' union proposal
School District proposal