'It's been an emotional roller coaster'--mediation between Anchorage teachers and the district continues

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - There's still no deal between the teacher's union and the Anchorage school district, and now it looks like the talks will continue sometime within the next two weeks.

The union that represents teachers says that's a good sign.

"You can't make an agreement if you're not talking and so this is a really good sign because the goal for everybody involved is to have a contract and our members want that stability, but not just for stability's sake, they want the issues solved," Tom Klaameyer, the president of the Anchorage Education Association, said.

There were two days of meditation talks on Nov. 6 and 7, but by Thursday ASD sent out a news release saying that, depending on when a federal mediator is available, the negotiations will happen again sometime in the next two weeks.

Todd Hess, the Chief of Human Resources at ASD, said in a news release: "We worked diligently and collaboratively during the last two days of federal mediation, making tremendous progress toward reaching an agreement." ASD reports that it is much closer in reaching an agreement.

Teachers went back to school this year without a three-year contract and the two sides started negotiations very far apart.

This past Monday, during a school board meeting, Anchorage school teachers staged a mass walkout saying it was an expression of solidarity and frustration with their voices not being heard in prolonged negotiations with ASD.

"It's been an emotional roller coaster," Klaameyer said, "again, as I said, we all want the issues solved for our students and for our classrooms."

Asked what was the hold-up at this point: salaries or methodology about teaching, Hess declined to answer. He went on to talk about how much the district appreciates its teachers.

"Our teachers work very hard and we're very proud of the job they do in the Anchorage School District," Hess said, "and we will do our best within the constraints that we have to do what we can to support them."

The two sides began negotiation for a three-year contract very far apart.

ASD offered no pay increase this year and the union wanted a three percent raise.

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