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Schools, staff reach tentative agreement
JUNEAU - The Juneau Education Support Staff will meet Saturday morning at Floyd Dryden Middle School to vote on a new contract with the Juneau School District, union officials said.
JESS represents about 250 school district employees such as clerks, administrative assistants, instructional assistants, school nurses and custodians.
"At this point, we're waiting to see where the tentative agreement goes with the membership before we discuss any specifics" with the media, said JESS President Laura Mulgrew.
If the union approves the tentative agreement, it would go before the Juneau School Board.
The union and the district have been negotiating since March 21, including four days with a federal mediator. The union's previous contract ended June 30, but its terms were continued during negotiations.
The previous contract, for three years, originally didn't include any raises. But it was reopened in its final year to include increases on the salary schedule of 1.3 percent plus $20 for each step and column, which reflect job classification and years of experience.
Those rates hadn't gone up for at least five years and members haven't moved up the schedule to reflect their experience in that period, Mulgrew said.
Fifty-seven percent of JESS members make base pay or, if they were hired after July 1997, 95 percent of the base, Mulgrew said. For most JESS members, those wages range from $11.19 to $13.36 an hour in a nine-month work year.
Education board elects new officers
JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board held its first meeting Tuesday following the Oct. 3 city election. Newly elected board member Daniel Peterson, 18, a Juneau-Douglas High School senior, was sworn in, along with re-elected incumbents Alan Schorr and Chuck Cohen.
The school board elected Mary Becker as its president, outgoing president Stan Ridgeway as vice president, and Cohen as clerk.
Alaska Day celebrated today
JUNEAU - Schools are closed today, as are many government offices, for the celebration of Alaska Day. Schools also will be closed Thursday and Friday for teacher in-service training.
Alaska Day celebrates the official transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in 1867. Sitka, the old Russian capital and site of the transfer, celebrates the day with a parade and a reenactment of the transfer ceremony.
Women's self-defense class offered
JUNEAU - In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a women's self-defense class will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 28, at the AWARE shelter on Glacier Highway. The class will be taught by the Juneau Shotokan Karate Do Club.
To save your space in the class, pre-register by paying a $10 fee. Bring a brown bag lunch the day of the class. For details, call 586-6623.
Forest Service official leaving Alaska
JUNEAU - Alaska Regional Forester Rick Cables, a Colorado native, has been named the next forester for the Rocky Mountain Region in Denver, U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck announced today.
Cables, who came to Alaska in May 1999, will oversee 11 national forests and seven national grasslands spread over Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota.
"I am excited to be returning to the Rocky Mountain Region," said Cables. "I will miss the incredible natural resources here and the friendly, self-reliant citizens of Alaska. Alaska Forest Service employees are some of the hardest working, most dedicated people I have ever worked with."
Cables has served in Alaska during a period marked by significant controversy and transition. Management of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast has changed with the end of the long-term timber sale contracts and the dramatic growth of tourism.
In response to these changes, Cables said, he initiated a strategic effort to focus on communities, Alaska Natives, recreation and tourism, and organizational effectiveness.
Cables is expected to be at work in Colorado by January. His successor in Alaska has not been announced.