Teachers pack school board meeting to support contract negotiations
Dozens of teachers turned out to the Anchorage School Board meeting Monday night to show support for contract negotiations.
The Anchorage Education Association (AEA)—the teacher’s union—asked people to wear purple “in solidarity” for a fair contract. About 200 people packed the conference room, many sporting violet, lavender, and royal purple t-shirts.
Staff’s previous contract went from June 2013 to June 2016. Last year they negotiated a one-year extension that ended in June this year.
While there is no current contract, the terms of the previous one extend until a new agreement can be reached.
AEA’s President Tom Klaaymeyer, said teachers are frustrated they’re continually being asked to do more with less.
The Anchorage School District laid-off more than 200 teachers at the end of the last school year. While many were recalled and got their jobs back, Klaaymeyer said it left many feeling insecure about their future in the district.
“We want to raise awareness that we are here doing all the hard work yet we don’t have a contract,” Klaaymeyer said. “It doesn’t feel very secure, it doesn’t feel like we’re respected or listened to.
The school board members and ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop listened to public testimony at the meeting.
Dr. Bishop said negotiations and agreements take time, especially when the school district faces budget cuts from the state legislature.
“Certainly we want to take care of our employees but you also have to look at the bottom line of your mission and how you can meet that,” Dr. Bishop explained. “Knowing the instability of our state, if you will, in regard to revenue and schools a lot of those items are very difficult to speak about right now.”
The union and the district have three days set aside next week to continue negotiations.
Klaaymeyer joined KTVA News Extra to discuss the contract negotiations.