Hundreds of Anchorage teachers and school staff gathered outside the Anchorage Education Center ahead of Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
They rallied in support of the teacher’s collective bargaining team, which is currently negotiating new three-year contracts with the Anchorage School District.
Corey Aist is the president of the Anchorage Education Association teachers’ union. He said the district is struggling to keep good teachers.
“Right now, ASD has approximately 100 open teaching positions,” Aist said. “And there’s nobody coming to fill those. We need a competitive contract to attract new educators, and retain the educators we have.”
After the rally outside the building, many teachers went inside to testify in front of the school board. Teachers raised three main concerns over ASD’s proposed contract. The first was the reduction of planning time, and the second was a new health care plan which many found inferior.
Most teachers, like Barbara Clark of West High School, complained about salaries. ASD is proposing a zero percent increase in salaries each of the three years of the contract.
“No district across Alaska has settled a contract at zero, zero, zero,” Clark said. “As it rebuilds its workforce in a tight labor market, post-pandemic, private industry is certainly not offering zero, zero, zero.”
When the district last negotiated with with the union in 2018, salaries went up roughly 2% each year, according to Aist.
“We look forward to continuing our work with the Anchorage Education Association to ensure the best possible outcome where teachers will be supported and thrive,” Superintendent Deena Bishop wrote in an email statement.
Contract negotiations are set to continue between the union and the school district on Oct. 27.
Correction: This story has been updated to more accurately describe the size of the rally.