Schools, teachers tentatively agree on contract

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2001

The Juneau School District and the teachers' union reached a tentative agreement Wednesday night on a new, two-year contract that includes pay increases.

The school district and the Juneau Education Association won't reveal details of the agreement until the union has informed its roughly 350 members.

"It does have financial terms that are increased," schools Superintendent Gary Bader said today. "I would say we think that it's a good package for them, and I think it moves them forward to a place we think they should be in compensation.

Bader said the school district can afford the proposed contract within existing finances and without laying off teachers. The district would have liked to make an even better offer, he said.

Negotiations, which began in February, reached an impasse in April over pay and benefits, the parties said at the time. Federal mediation in May failed. Teachers picketed outside the school district's office during part of two school board meetings, and some teachers spoke at one meeting of their frustration that rates on the pay scale hadn't risen since fall of 1994.

Negotiations resumed Aug. 15, and talks were held again on Tuesday. The final details were decided Wednesday night, Bader said.

"We're pleased to have reached an agreement," said Clay Good, the union's spokesman.

He said the teachers regret it took so long and that they had to bargain during the summer. "But we believe it's a well-bargained agreement that suits both the district and the teachers, and we can get back to work and teach the kids," Good said.

The union plans to bring the proposed contract to its members for formal approval next Tuesday, Good said. The Juneau School Board is likely to take up the contract at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 4, Bader said.

Teachers return to school Monday and Tuesday for training sessions and orientation, and students return on Wednesday for the first day of classes.

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