Anchorage teachers ratify three-year deal

Nathaniel Herz

The members of the Anchorage teachers union have ratified a three-year contract, Anchorage Education Association President Andy Holleman said Wednesday evening.

The Anchorage School District board will now have to approve the deal at its meeting on Sept. 9.

Holleman wouldn't disclose the numbers of teachers voting for and against the contract. Releasing that information could hurt the union's negotiating position, he said.

The yes-no vote would also be a measure of how the rank and file viewed the contract negotiated by union leaders.

Holleman said he thought most teachers were glad to put the negotiations behind them.

"Especially this time of year, they want to teach and not think about this," Holleman said.

Jake Todd, a social studies teacher at Service High School who supports the deal, agreed.

"School has started, and I have way bigger things to worry about than how I'm going to be getting paid," he said. "As long as I'm not getting a pay cut. My kids come first."

The proposed contract, with 1 percent salary increases in each of the three years, is seen as a compromise. Teachers will get raises below the rate of inflation, but union officials maintain that in a time of budget shortfalls, a 1 percent bump isn't bad.

A pair of $1,500 bonuses in the first and third years of the contract will also provide teachers with more income without adding long-term labor costs to the budget.

"A lot of people were afraid we were going to get hammered, and we didn't," Holleman said.

The bonuses mean that the teachers will see an effective 3 percent raise in the first year of the contract, a 1 percent raise in the second year, and a 3 percent raise in the third year.

Starting teachers in the district currently make $47,500, assuming they have a bachelor's degree and no previous experience. The pay scale tops out at $87,500, for teachers with 20 years of experience and a doctorate.

The district will save money by cutting the number of teachers eligible for health insurance, since the agreement says that employees who work half-time will lose their coverage.

Holleman estimated that 150 part-time teachers would lose their benefits.

Anchorage School Board president Tam Agosti-Gisler said she was "quite pleased" with the proposed contract and would be voting for it at the September meeting.

She said she expected a "healthy discussion," but added that the district's negotiating team had not strayed from the guidelines that the board gave them.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.