Teacher contract negotiations heading to mediation
The Anchorage School District and the Anchorage Education Association met at South High School on Thursday night for another round of negotiations. The four-hour long get together ended with both sides agreeing to go to mediation.
"Both sides just felt that this would be the best way to go forward," AEA President Tom Klaameyer said. "We just hit a wall and felt it was too large to tear down together."
One of the biggest sticking points for the teachers union is teacher and academic freedom in the classroom.
"Basically, we want the freedom to be able to inspire and keep the interest and motivation of our students," Corey Aist, Chair of the AEA bargaining team said. "Right now, what they are having us do is to teach all students to exact same thing, the exact same way."
Both sides reached an impasse and decided mediation was the best route. Teachers in the Anchorage School District are currently working without a new contract and working under the guideline of the old contract which expired on June 30.
"We have a lot of great teachers," ASD Chief of Human Resources Todd Hess said. "They are showing up for their students. We're off to a very positive start in our schools."
At the bargaining table, it looked to be the same positive outlook. Both sides seemed to slowly close any gaps they had and more meetings were being planned at the end of each night of bargaining. That all ended Thursday night.
"I think the last time this happened was in 2012 or 2013," Klaameyer said. "So, it's not uncommon. Now we need to find a mediator and they are generally pretty busy. We're hoping to get one on September 27th, that's a day both sides already had put aside for one another. If that doesn't work it could be a month or longer."
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