With three collective bargaining agreements expiring this summer, Juneau School District is set to head to the negotiating table.
On Friday at 4:30 p.m., there will be a special school board meeting that is expected to head directly to executive session for discussions about negotiations with Juneau Education Support Staff, Juneau School Administrative Association and Juneau Education Association.
The meeting will not feature bargaining but the topic will be talked about.
“It’s just a school board discussion,” said Jessica Richmond, administrative assistant to the superintendent.
Negotiations are still in their early stages across the board, Richmond said.
The first meeting between district negotiators and the JEA’s negotiating team is also set for Friday afternoon a few hours before the special school board meeting.
JEA President Laura Mulgrew said the meeting will be approached optimistically.
“We enter into negotiations now hoping things will be positive,” Mulgrew said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Mulgrew was part of the JEA negotiating team in 2016, but she will not be at the table this year. She said bargaining was not especially heated three years ago, but both sides made concessions.
She did not offer insight into what educators may ask for during the upcoming negotiations.
“I think it’s premature at this point,” Mulgrew said.
Things are slightly further along with JESS.
Joel Hill, Southeast field representative for Alaska Public Employees Association, which is representing JESS in negotiations, said tentative agreements are in place for almost all non-economic portions of the agreement.
Plans were in place to begin hammering out dollar and cents matters beginning Feb. 20, Hill said.
However, Hill said Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget put those plans on hold because of cuts to education spending contained in the proposal.
“It’s up in the air as far as dollars — are they going to be cut? Is the Legislature going to come back?” Hill said. “It’s not prudent to go to the table right now and negotiate over things when we have no idea what is going to shake out.”
Until a more concrete form of a budget takes shape, Hill said negotiations are unlikely to progress.
Richmond said it is a certainty that collective bargaining will continue to be an agenda staple in the future.
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.