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UCSD Approves Teacher Raises After 'Best' Contract Negotiations In Years

Laura Kraegel

Unalaska's teachers have negotiated a new contract for the next three years.

Superintendent John Conwell said the teachers union and school district negotiated the contract in only a day and a half.

"Teams representing the Unalaska Education Association and the Unalaska City School District met on Aug. 28 and 29 to negotiate the terms and conditions of the teachers collective bargaining agreement," said Conwell at the Sept. 12 school board meeting. "The UEA met and ratified the new negotiated agreement on Sept. 5, 2019."

The contract includes a 2-percent salary increase for teachers for each of the next three years. Annually, that totals approximately $50,000 in additional compensation, not including health insurance premiums.

Conwell said the agreement also includes an increase in personal leave from four to five days, provides a $3,000 relocation allowance for newly hired teachers moving from outside of Unalaska, and doubles the bonus for teachers who hold an endorsement in English as a Second Language from $500 to $1,000.   

"I think we have a compensation package that is very competitive," said Conwell. "I'm hoping this makes it easier for the district to continue to attract and retain what I consider the best teachers in all of Alaska, if not the entire country."

After a delay in negotiations due to uncertainty with the state budget, teachers said the contract process went smoothly.

"I've been at negotiations for the past 11 years, and this is the best we've ever done as a team by far," said Joni Scott, a union member and preschool teacher.

With the new contract set, the school board discussed students' results on the latest statewide standardized test.

Conwell said kids scored above the state average with the exceptions of fifth grade math, fifth grade English language arts, and seventh grade math. The number of students who scored in the "advanced" and  "proficient" range in science also grew by 2.7 percent from 2018 to 2019. 

Board member Carlos Tayag said the district's challenge now is to foster further growth at all levels.

"We have students who are far below, and it's important those students don't fall behind," said Tayag. "But we also need to continue to challenge the students who are far above, and that's a hard job for all of us to do." 

The school board's next meeting is Oct. 17. Members will elect a new president and treasurer, following the Oct.1 election.

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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