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UCSD Asks Teachers, Principals To Re-Sign Contracts Earlier Than Usual

Laura Kraegel

This year, the Unalaska City School District has offered teacher and principal contracts weeks earlier than usual.

Superintendent John Conwell made the announcement at last week's school board meeting.

He said the district moved its offer date from Feb. 1 to Jan. 15, because Alaska's teacher job fair is scheduled earlier this year. He also cited a shortage of candidates around the state.

"We have some awesome teachers here and we want them back," said Conwell. "And when we do need to replace teachers, it's time-consuming, expensive, and the competition to find quality candidates is really getting tough."

Teachers must decide whether to re-sign their contracts by Feb. 14.

While Unalaska's teachers union declined to comment on the faster timeline, Conwell said he understands that some teachers are concerned.

"It's really hard for teachers to make this decision this far in advance," said Conwell. "But on the other hand, it's guaranteed employment for another year or two. I wish there was a better way to do it, but I can't figure out how else to do it."

Currently, the district has three teacher vacancies to fill before the next school year: elementary special education, English Language Arts for grades 7 through 12, and high school science.

Under state law, school districts can offer contracts any time after Jan. 1.

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