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My Turn: Honesty, transparency and good faith are my expectations

Posted: December 18, 2013 - 1:00am

After reading a recent My Turn by Bill Peters, I’d like to address a few of his points.

First, I’m not going to stoop to arguing about hours worked by teachers as compared to others, as I’m confident the amount of time I put in as a professional is comparable to other professionals. Teaching is my life by choice, and I’m not wasting breath trying to sway Mr. Peters’ opinion in regards to the amount of time I work.

Second, when I share about my continuing education, it is with excitement as a life-long learner. I know it is similar to my husband’s continuing CPA studies. Many people choose to study as it benefits their work.

It is with great respect to Mr. Peters that I point out many employees’ contracts include forms of step and column advancement, including other unions within the Juneau School District. Similarly, the State of Alaska and the City of Juneau offer salary schedules with their own version of step and column advancement. In fact, some of the schedules include opportunities for 27 column movements. When employees advance through these ranges or steps, it rewards their time and work monetarily. These same salary schedules have received recent cost of living increases. While both are a means of increasing wages, I believe they are fundamentally different.

As for the Juneau School District teacher salary schedule, please note that advancement stops after 18 years and there are only five different column opportunities for movement. I’ve had no chance to “get a raise” in the form Mr. Peters’ considers for the past seven years. The last change in my salary occurred four years ago with a Cost of Living Adjustment raise to the salary schedule.

I agree with Mr. Peters in that it is important for the public to be informed. I encourage you to compare the JSD budgets over the past four years. Please note that during this time of “flat funding,” many new items appear: AVID for high schools, AVID for middle schools, AVID for an elementary school, secondary language arts curriculum, elementary math curriculum, elementary coaches, professional development, and soon-to-be secondary math curriculum and elementary language arts curriculum, just to name a few. I’m not arguing whether or not these new items are fundamentally necessary or not; I’m simply noting that there are new costs in the budget that weren’t there before. I’m cautious when numbers are thrown out as to how much JSD has cut from it’s budget when I calculate new costs added.

I do not mean to bellyache, but simply to ask for a fair contract. Mr. Peters asks what I as a teacher expected when I was hired for a salaried position. I expected honesty in leadership, transparency in budget and good faith in negotiations.

• Amy Jo Meiners is Juneau teacher with 25 years experience.

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