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Anchorage teachers tentatively agree to new contract

Bargaining teams for the Anchorage School District and its teacher union have reached a tentative three-year contract, announced in a joint press conference this afternoon.

The deal came after a marathon 15-hour bargaining session Wednesday, with the teams toeing a union-set deadline that no talks would be scheduled after that, since teachers returned to schools today. Classes begin Tuesday.

"I'm very pleased that teachers can now report back to their first day in the classrooms with their primary focus on students," said Ron Fuhrer, president of the teachers' Anchorage Education Association.

The union has some 3,400 members, including teachers, school counselors, nurses, librarians and others who work directly with students.

The union voted to strike last summer when months of frustrating negotiations failed to produce a contract. But a walkout was averted last-minute when the bargaining teams approved a one-year deal.

That contract expired June 30. Their bargaining team presented them with a tentative agreement in May but didn't recommend it. It was defeated by a roughly two-to-one margin.

Bargaining-team members at today's press conference were confident this new agreement would gain more favor. The union is supporting it, Fuhrer said.

It includes health insurance contributions, raises and more planning time for elementary teachers.

"This is a good settlement, and it's fair," Superintendent Carol Comeau said.

Contact reporter Katie Pesznecker at kpesznecker@adn.com or (907) 257-4589.

By KATIE PESZNECKER

Anchorage Daily News

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