Anchorage School Board approves contracts with district’s teachers, support personnel

The Anchorage School District Education Center, photographed on Feb. 19, 2022. (Katie Anastas/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage School Board on Tuesday voted 6-1 to approve a three-year contract for teachers.

School board member Dave Donley was the only no vote. He said there were several changes he wanted to see in the contract, including longer school days.

Board member Andy Holleman said approving the contract would help show teachers that they’re appreciated.

“Whatever the board does, whatever the administration does, every morning on a weekday it falls on teachers to make it work,” he said at the board Tuesday evening meeting. “I think at times we forget that. We just have to give more credit to what has to be done in the classroom to make it happen every day.”

The Anchorage Education Association teachers union voted last week to ratify the contract. It includes salary increases and more opportunities for teachers to move across the pay scale. On average, salaries will increase about 2% each year. It also changes how teachers are compensated for covering other classes, and allows more teachers to contribute to a supplemental retirement plan.

Corey Aist, president of the union, said the changes could help recruit new teachers and keep current staff in the district.

“I think most educators have been excited about the new contract,” he said. “One of our biggest hopes is that it helps retain our educators. I am very concerned about staffing levels and staffing levels for next year.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also approved a tentative contract with the TOTEM Association, the union that represents the district’s support personnel, including secretaries, teaching assistants and language tutors.

Board member Kelly Lessens said TOTEM members are a vital part of school staff.

“I hope to each and every one of the TOTEM employees that this new contract language shows how much they’re deeply valued in our school system,” she said.

The board also approved the district’s preliminary budget for the next fiscal year in a 6-1 vote, with Donley casting the only no vote. Board member Carl Jacobs filed a motion to allocate $5 million in federal grant money to student mental health supports, which passed 5-2. The board will send the budget to the Anchorage Assembly for approval.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the school board’s vote on the teachers’ contract. The motion passed in a 6-1 vote, not 7-1.

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