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UCSD approves 8% bump in teacher salaries and fewer school days for kids

Laura Kraegel
Starting next year, teachers will have 189 contract days and students will be at school for 175 of those — eight fewer days than this year.

Unalaska teachers will get an 8% bump in their salaries over the next three years, and they’ll also have fewer days with students.

That comes after the Unalaska school board approved the new teacher contracts at a meeting Wednesday.

The district will give teachers more money for professional development and more flexibility for sick leave, and new hires will get a larger stipend for moving to the community.

The agreement also includes a new calendar. Starting next year, teachers will have 189 contract days and students will be at school for 175 of those — eight fewer days than this year.

Board member Bob Cummings said at the meeting that he’s concerned about lingering effects of the pandemic on student performance, and how that drop in school days might be a poor response.

“Part of the problem is that we don’t actually know what happened during COVID,” Cummings said. “But in order to address that, it seems like the best way to do that is to have teachers in front of students.”

Superintendent Robbie Swint Jr. said there are other programs like summer school and better technology that will help improve student achievement over the next few years.

The new contract covers the entire teaching staff and goes from July this year to 2025.

It was drafted in April, following three days of negotiations between representatives from the Unalaska Education Association, school board members and district officials.

Riley Spetz teaches third grade and is the vice president of the teachers union. Overall, he said the process went very smoothly.

“[District officials] were very accommodating,” Spetz said. “They listened. Let us kind of air out our needs and ways that we could really improve the contract. And I think that, for the most part, we had a really honest conversation.”

The 8% increase is a big jump fromfrom 2019’s 2% salary hike. But Superintendent Swint said the change reflects inflation, as well as heightened travel costs on and off the island.

“Travel costs are going up rapidly,” Swint said. “If you come in here and you don't have subsidized housing and you don't get paid until the end of September, that's kind of harsh.”

The district raised the relocation allowance by $500, bringing it to $3500.

This was Swint’s first year negotiating as a district official, but he said his past experience going through the process as a teacher gave him a leg up.

“Being an administrator, you almost have to start thinking about the other side of it,” he said. “We could have been sitting for all three days and still come to an impasse, but I think that the main thing we did was listen to one another.”

The salary raise will be spread out over three years and start with a 3% bump next year.

The board voted 5 to 1 to approve the contracts. Cummings was the only member to vote “no.”

Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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