UCSD Boosts Teacher Pay, But State Funding Remains Uncertain

May 30, 2017

Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

The fate of public education funding is still undecided as the Legislature works overtime on the state budget.

On Thursday, that left Unalaska’s school board trying to settle their finances as much as possible before the start of summer break.

Expenses rose this year at the Unalaska City School District, as a result of maintenance projects and increased retirement costs. Still, Superintendent John Conwell said the fund balance has remained steady at $1.2 million.

“This is in line with our strategy to try to keep funds in reserve, knowing that we have this fiscal uncertainty in the state," he said. "Maintain our buildings, maintain our programs, and keep things chugging along until hopefully Alaska has a stable fiscal plan.”

The school board unanimously approved a new collective bargaining agreement that’ll boost teachers’ pay over the next two years.

In addition to scheduled raises, teachers will be paid more for earning ESL certifications and agreeing to teach during preparation periods. Classified employees — like teacher aides — will also receive bonuses.   

The contract is worth about $65,000 in total. School Board President Tammy Fowler Pound said that’ll be money well spent.  

“We work hard to acknowledge the work our teachers do, but still be responsible for the multitude of other financial things that we have to take care of," she said. "It was long, it was tough, but it was a good negotiation.”

Meanwhile, the board has signed off on nearly $90,000 in new school equipment. The district is replacing several cafeteria tables and interactive white boards, in addition to purchasing a new practice mat for the wrestling team.

The school board’s next meeting is Aug. 17.