Juneau teachers, district close to reaching ‘tentative agreement’

The Juneau teachers’ union and the school district did not reach an agreement Wednesday after a full-day meeting. The teachers’ last contract expired June 30, but its terms remain in effect.

The meeting was devoted to financial issues, such as salaries and health care, which are the final elements to be negotiated.

“We made progress, but we were disappointed that we didn’t finish,” said Ted VanBronkhorst, human resources director for the Juneau School District.

An overtime session is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 14.

“What we all agreed was let’s go back to our teams and come back together and see if a couple more hours can get us there, so we all view the possibility is there,” said Sara Hannan, a teacher at Juneau-Douglas High School and the bargaining representative for the Juneau Education Association.

If the teachers’ union and the school district reach a tentative agreement next week, a written version will go to the teachers. They have two weeks to review it before a vote to finalize it.

It then needs to be approved by the Juneau School Board. VanBronkhorst expects the contract will likely be on the November agenda.

The union, representing 365 school district employees, started the bargaining process with the school district in February.

The last bargaining process was contentious with teachers picketing and threatening to strike. This time around, the school district and the teachers’ union are using a new approach called interest-based bargaining, which is more collaborative.

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