Teachers, district to settle

Two-year contract provides for raises

Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Juneau teachers will get raises this year and next under a tentative agreement announced Tuesday afternoon.

Teachers had threatened to strike if they didn't get a tentative contract before the new school year started.

In the first year, the proposed contract increases rates on the salary schedule by 1 percent, and it allows eligible teachers to move up the schedule for added years of experience or college credits. About a third of teachers are at the highest pay level and don't move up the schedule. The contract adds an additional 1 percent to their pay rate.

The proposed contract also increases the Juneau School District's contribution to health insurance premiums by $50 per person a month.

In the contract's second year, eligible teachers will move up the salary schedule at the beginning of the school year. But halfway through the year, teachers will move onto a new salary schedule with pay rates 3 percent higher than before. That averages into a 1.5 percent raise for the year. Teachers at the highest rate will average a 1.25 percent increase for the year.

The second year of the contract also increases the district's contribution to health insurance premiums by a further $50, to a total of $735 per person a month. Teachers now pay about $158 a month toward their premium.

"We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement before our students arrive in the classroom. Now our focus can be on our students and the beginning of the school year," said Molly Box, spokeswoman for the Juneau Education Association, the 340-member union that represents teachers, counselors, psychologists and other specialists.

"We are pleased to have a two-year agreement. We value our teachers and believe this is a fair agreement," Superintendent Peggy Cowan said.

The school year begins today. Teachers will vote on the agreement Sept. 3. The Juneau School Board will vote at its regular meeting Sept. 7.

Teachers are coming off a one-year contract that followed bitter negotiations that were only concluded halfway through last school year. It gave them a 2 percent raise plus movement on the salary schedule and more money for health insurance.

This year, the district initially offered a freeze on salaries and benefits pending word from the Legislature on whether there would be a boost in state funds for schools.

Without it, the district projected laying off 26 teachers for the upcoming school year, mostly due to lack of funds. But new state funding of $82 million has provided Juneau with $3.1 million more in state funds, and it triggered about $678,000 more in city funds.

In June, the district signed two-year contracts with retroactive and future raises for its administrators and support staff. The retroactive raises matched what the teachers received last year.



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