Pink-slipped ASD teaching jobs funded by legislature education budget

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A compromise on a state operating budget is promising jobs to dozens of teachers who received a pink slip in May.

About 220 teachers at the Anchorage School District were handed layoff notices at the end of the previous school year.

For first year teacher at Creekside Park Elementary Nikita Octuck, it was a blow to the stability of her growing family.

“I'm going to have to find a new career,” said Octuck. “A lot of things were going through my head.”

For weeks, Octuck said her financial future was in limbo as worries of bills began to weigh heavy. She just bought a house with her husband, she was raising her 2-year-old toddler and was well into her next pregnancy.

Living across the city, eighth grade teacher at Begich Middle School Rebekah Hayden was preparing to go on unemployment. She’s a single mother raising three children, who began wondering what jobs she could land with her qualifications as a teacher.

“The pressure to find something, and find something quick, was the biggest stress,” said Hayden. “I was looking into having to take a loan against my house.”

At the end of June, a sudden announcement of a budget deal in Juneau preserving the funding of K-12 education in Alaska caught many off-guard. Hayden first heard the news at her son's doctor appointment.

“The doctor said, ‘I heard that you got funded again,’” said Hayden. “I hadn't heard anything, so I burst out crying.”

ASD began releasing emails reoffering positions to teachers with layoff notices last week. Octuck found out she would be keeping her job after a text message from her principal.

“He sent me a text saying, ‘You know we have good news. Teachers are coming back, and I just want to let you know you are coming back to school, so welcome home,’” said Octuck. “It was the best feeling to hear that.”

Although many pink slipped teachers will be allowed the opportunity to return to ASD, it's still unclear if they will remain at the same school they taught at in the previous school year.

The operating budget bill has been transmitted to Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

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