The Anchorage School District and the teachers union have reached a tentative contract agreement after months of tense negotiations.
The Anchorage School Board and the union members themselves still must vote to ratify the proposed contract before it takes effect. If they do, the three-year contract would run through June 30, 2021.
The school district and the union, the Anchorage Education Association, announced the tentative agreement in a joint statement around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, following more than 12 hours of negotiations that day.
It remained unclear Thursday what contract terms the two groups had settled on, including salary, health benefits, pay for additional classes taught and more. The school district and the union scheduled a press conference for 9 a.m. Friday to discuss the details.
The groups were still working Thursday to get the proposal typed, said Tom Klaameyer, union president. The union also had to tell its members about the terms of the tentative contract. A meeting with the union’s board of directors was scheduled for Thursday evening, Klaameyer said.
“We finished the agreement so late last night that there was no staff, so we couldn’t even type it up. So there’s a lot of handwritten edits,” he said Thursday. “We need to formalize it — dot our i’s and cross our t’s.”
The union has roughly 3,300 members, including classroom teachers, counselors and school nurses. They’re currently working under the terms of a contract that expired June 30.
The school district and the union started negotiating a contract in April.
As negotiations continued, educators packed school board meetings, telling board members about concerns, including frustrations with working conditions. They staged a walkout at last week’s meeting. They also held a “walk-in” during students’ first day of school and have gathered outside of schools and the district administration building with signs such as: “We Demand: The schools all our children deserve!”
Wednesday night’s statement included quotes from Deena Bishop, school district superintendent; Todd Hess, the district chief human resource officer; and Klaameyer.
Bishop said: “I appreciate the dedication of every teacher and employee in AEA. The heart of our classrooms resides with our teachers and this Tentative Agreement allows them and the District to move forward to achieve positive outcomes for our students.”
Hess said: “The ASD appreciates the work and dedication of our teachers and other AEA members. We value the work they do and their recognition of the District’s overall fiscal situation."
Klaameyer said: “AEA members are committed to working with the District to provide an excellent education for all of our students. This agreement will allow us to focus on that core mission together.”
There’s a history of strained contract negotiations between the school district and the teachers union.
Last year, the district and union reached a tentative, one-year contract deal in November, which educators later voted on and rejected. The bargaining teams reached another tentative agreement in January, and educators voted to approve it. That contract followed more than two years of negotiations. It took effect retroactively to July 1, 2017 and expired June 30, 2018.