Anchorage School Board OK's teachers' contract

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ANCHORAGE — The Anchorage School Board approved a three-year contract with teachers Monday and clarified the gift policy for parents who want to give them a little more.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the contract calls for a $1,800 salary increase in the first year, a 2 percent raise the second year, and a 3 percent increase the third year.

Union members have already ratified the contract. The district has 5,500 employees.

The board also decided to re-emphasize the ethics policy on gifts. It says teachers may not accept gifts “if it can be reasonably inferred that the gift is intended to influence the employee’s independence of judgment.” Gifts are not expected, and if they are given, it’s better to give them to classrooms, the school, the district or the Anchorage Schools Foundation.

Gifts worth more than $50 must be declared to the teacher’s supervisor and to the city clerk.

The city’s Board of Ethics reviewed teacher gift-disclosure forms earlier this year and recommended in February that the district tighten its policy. The ethics board recommended a $50 limit per gift and no more than $100 in a year from a single student or parent.

About 75 presents were reported to the Municipal Clerk’s office for 2009, said Eric Tollefsen, the district’s head of human resources.

Presents included a $100 bill, a $135 pair of Dansko shoes and a $100 gift card for Nordstrom. Local lawyer Bill Bittner donated the $450 airplane ticket to teacher Sharon Brooks at Chugach Optional, where his child goes to school.

Leah Dubber at Hanshew Middle School said big gifts are few and far between. At the end of this year, she got a loaf of bread, a strawberry plant and a travel mug.

“A travel mug? How cute is that?” said the social studies teacher. “They see me drinking tea. That’s thoughtful and sweet, and they are very proud of that,” she said. “It’s not a kickback, they definitely know better. It’s precious to me that anyone would even think about me outside of the school day.”

Last year she received a $100 gift certificate to a spa. The students wanted to thank her for spending a Saturday with them for an academic presentation.

Sabrina Oyster at Trailside Elementary received a $300 gold and diamond ring from the parents of a student at the end of last school year.

“She was a good teacher,” said Sajjad Sumbal, on behalf of the family that gave the teacher the present. “And we own a jewelry shop, so we don’t think (in terms) other than jewelry.” “She helped the kid a lot, he was learning to speak English,” Sumbal said of his nephew who speaks Pakistani at home.

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