Anchorage (KTUU) — The Anchorage School District is set to include the public in ongoing teacher bargaining discussions.
ASD and Anchorage Education Association finalized a one-year contract agreement in February —a contract that expires on June 30, and that left both sides wanting more.
"We want a contract before ours expires, and definitely before we come back in the fall," Gruening Middle School teacher Meghan Card said.
Card says nothing has changed this year. AEA officials say they submitted new contract demands in late April, and ASD responded just last week with bargaining dates.
"We were hoping that good faith negotiations mean that we're going to move things along timely,” Card said. “A lot of people do feel that there's been some stalling. We want ASD to come to the table in good faith and give us an offer we can't pass up, and hopefully one that will last for a number of years."
ASD says the time was needed to give newly elected school board members time to understand the contract bargaining playing field.
"Frankly it didn't have anything to do with the district stopping over the summer,” ASD Superintendent Deena Bishop said. “Once new board members come to our board and get caught up, the bargaining began."
Bargaining dates are set for June 19th and 20th, with the expiration of the current contract looming on June 30th. That means the public only has two sessions to weigh-in.
“There's a lot of frustrated teachers, some that are even willing to strike over it,” Card said. “They just don't want to do this again."
If an agreement can't be reached, the existing contract will remain operational.
Bishop says as far back as she can remember, contract bargaining was closed to the public, but both sides now agree that transparency is the best way to move forward.
"We hope to have an agreement and some work done and some progress towards an agreement by school start,” Bishop said. “I would love for that to happen. It really puts everyone to rest we start out a new school year on the right foot."