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JSD, union reach impasse in contract negotiations

Posted: May 12, 2012 - 4:41pm  |  Updated: May 13, 2012 - 12:11am

Negotiations on a new contract between the Juneau School District and the Juneau Education Association have reached an impasse, and the sides will seek mediation, according to a release from the district.

The impasse was reached Saturday, the release states.

JEA President Ben Kriegmont said the main sticking points have been salary, changes to the work schedule and length of the agreement. He said the district’s final proposal offered a one-half percent salary increase, which the union rejected. JEA is also looking for more than the one-year contract he said the district offered.

Concerns about the work schedule focused on disruptions to the school day the district’s early release program causes, Kriegmont said. While teachers are compensated for the collaboration time that happens following the early release, Kriegmont said the way it is currently implemented cuts into other prep time and breaks some teachers are contractually entitled to. The district is currently offering a flex schedule which would allow teachers to come in 10 minutes later than normal to compensate for any lost time, he said.

“Most of our folks are there before the current time anyway,” Kriegmont said. “That’s just a 10-minute block of time that most members wouldn’t want to use or be able to use.”

For the 2011-12 school year, Juneau schools were let out one hour early on 16 different Mondays to facilitate that collaboration.

A survey conducted by the district and the union revealed a roughly 50-50 favorable/unfavorable split among teachers about the early release days, with some grade levels and sites viewing the program more favorably that others, Kriegmont said.

A call to JSD Director of Human Resources Phil Bedford at JSD’s main office was not immediately returned. District Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich’s home number is not listed, and a call to a P. Bedford in Juneau was not answered.

“While there remain significant differences, the gap between the parties’ proposals has narrowed substantially through the process so far,” Gelbrich stated in the release. “We will work with JEA leadership to identify a mediator as soon as possible. We remain confident that we can craft a mutually acceptable contract with our teachers union,” he said.

Kriegmont said the process to find a mediator could take 3-4 months. The current contract between JSD and the union expires June 30, according to the district’s release. However, the terms of that agreement will stay in place if the sides cannot reach a deal by June 30.

JEA will hold a general membership meeting Tuesday evening, with an exact time and location to be determined, Kriegmont said.

The Juneau Education Association is the largest union that has Juneau School District employees as members. It has nearly 400 members, including teachers and other educators, including counselors, librarians and specialists, the district’s release states.

The second-largest union within JSD, Juneau Education Support Staff, reached an agreement with the district in March.

• Contact Deputy Managing Editor Charles Ward at 523-2266 or at charles.ward@juneauempire.com.

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