Anchorage School Board and Public Kept in the Dark on Contract

Why would you buy something without knowing the total costs? Would you buy a latte without knowing what it costs? Anchorage School District will not disclose contract costs to public and School Board.

Would you buy a car without knowing the full costs? Would you buy a house without knowing what the price is? Well, the Anchorage School District is doing just that with the tentative agreement between the District and the Anchorage Education Association. It seems as if the District does not know the full projected costs of the contract even though it has come away from the bargaining table with a “good deal”. When asked what the total costs were to include PERS/TRS, “me-too” effects, etc. the District said it did not have the total projected costs. These total costs are to be provided to both the public and the School Board on September 6, one business day before the Board votes on the contract.

Wouldn’t you think that the District would have the total costs within a day or two after the tentative contract? Wouldn’t you also think that the School Board would insist on these total costs several business days before voting on the contract so they could digest the impact on the budget and employees? It is truly confounding and opaque. It is even more difficult to believe that “transparency” is one of the values of the Anchorage School District.

Don’t we always hear that the District needs more resources, i.e., money? We always hear that the District is millions of dollars in the hole. How many newly hired teachers will have to be let go at the end of this school year due to the increased costs of this contract? There are too many unknowns to answer any of these questions. If only we had the information from the District.

Now it’s time for your voice to be heard. You may not know it but Alaska law requires that school districts allow the public to comment on new employee contracts (AS 23.40.235). The Anchorage School District needs your comments on the tentative contract with teacher union members. Here is the contract (lined out parts are deletions; underlined parts are newly added to the previous contract). The School Board votes on September 9th so you need to let your voice be heard now or at the meeting on September 9th at 6:30 pm. You can sign up here.

Here are some of the more important points:

  • There is a 1% salary increase for each of the 3 years of the contract; there is a $1,500 bonus for year 1 and year 3; step increases each year of duty. These equate to a 5 to 7% pay increase for years 1 and 3 for an employee with less than 10 years service.
  • The District pays the NEA Alaska Health Trust Fund for those union members who do NOT enroll in the health insurance. This is about 700 people at about $18,000 per year (total of $12,600,000). There is no accountability for any of the funds the District pays to the NEA Health Trust Fund.
  • The Anchorage Education Association states that because members must work at .75 FTE or more to receive health insurance benefits in years 2 and 3, that “ASD will work to place any member currently working below .75 FTE to .75 FTE or above.” This is an added cost to the District. This is to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

You need to be heard. The District is not honoring its value of “Transparency”. Let’s shine the light on this contract.