Anchorage teachers and the Anchorage School District are one step away from labor peace for the next two and half years.

At this point an announcement appears to be a formality. The two sides have agreed on a contract through June 2021. On Monday teachers ratified what was a hard-earned new deal, and on Tuesday it was certified. Now it will be presented at the school board meeting on Dec. 17 for its vote.

"Our reaction is positive," AEA President Tom Klaameyer said after Monday's proceedings. "It moves us forward on a lot of the working-condition issues we were working on with the district, and moves us a step forward and gives us the stability we've been looking for the next couple years."

Teachers will receive a salary increase and will be paid retroactively from the beginning of the year. They'd been operating on the past contract's guidelines, but that agreement expired on June 30. 

Getting to this point wasn't easy. Negotiating since last spring, teachers began school for a third straight year without a contract. The talks stalled in September but picked up momentum in October as a Seattle-based mediator joined. In November they finally reached common ground. 

Klaameyer said teachers were more involved. 

"Many of our members had attended open bargaining this year and we think that was good in terms of informing them of the process and seeing sort of behind the curtain or what used to be behind the curtain negotiating," he said. "And it finally was the mediation that got us over the last hurdle to have an agreement."

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