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Teachers seek pay raises, supplemental retirement, better working conditions | Local News

 


FAIRBANKS — The union representing about 900 public school teachers is asking the school district for 4 percent annual raises, supplemental retirement benefits, extra pay for teaching large classes and better working conditions, including discretion over student suspension when a student assaults a teacher. 

The Fairbanks Education Association and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District exchanged contract proposals Monday. 

The school district is proposing status quo benefits for retirement and health care, annual raises of 0.5 percent and is looking to strike some current contract provisions. For example, a provision entitling teachers to review their assigned school’s adopted budget is proposed to be stricken from the new contract. The district is also proposing to remove a nondiscrimination clause. 

The two sides meet next at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the union office, according to the school district website. The negotiations are open to the public under negotiating ground rules. 

The teachers union is the largest of three unions that cover the majority of school district employees and whose contracts expire on June 30.

The other unions are the Fairbanks Principals Association, which has also exchanged contracts with the school district, and the Education Support Staff Association. Contract proposals between the district and ESSA are scheduled to be exchanged Feb. 14. The three labor groups cover 1,750 employees. 

Several requests in the teachers union’s initial contract center on working conditions, particularly teacher safety and teacher liability.

Teachers are asking for contract language guaranteeing training for the possibility of an active-shooter incident, and they want to be held harmless for damages or loss while performing “emergency services.” 

Teachers are also asking for more support, including legal help, from the school district in the event that they are assaulted by a student or adult.

“Incidents of verbal or physical assault of members shall be documented by the principal,” the requested contract language states. “When physical assault of a member has occurred, the administrator shall remove the student from the member’s classroom unless the member requests otherwise.”

The union is additionally asking to protect a teacher’s right to attend their own child’s parent-teacher conference.

On discipline, teachers want to be notified in the case of an investigation into their own conduct, and they want contract language guaranteeing their ability to respond to allegations.

Teachers also want the ability to erase reprimands in their personnel file after 48 months provided a teacher does not reoffend, according to the contract proposal. 

Other language in the proposal seeks to protect teachers from being disciplined for being late to work owing to acts of nature or road conditions.  

On leave time, the union is asking for 60 days, up from 30, in the event of a medical emergency involving an immediate family member. 

On teacher preparation time, the union is asking for more prep time for elementary school teachers, bringing their prep time in line with high school teachers. 

The union is also seeking extra duty compensation for music and yearbook teachers and compensation of about $3,000 per course for teachers leading online courses. They additionally want a cap on the number of students in online classes. 

The contact seeks to provide extra compensation for teachers who wind up with large classes. If approved, teachers would receive $100 per student per semester for each student above class size targets. 

On retirement, contract language asks the school district to provide supplemental 403(b) retirement accounts. Teachers also belong to a state retirement system. The proposed supplemental retirement system involves the district matching employee contributions up to 6 percent of a teacher’s yearly salary.

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.





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