School board members said Monday that the challenges facing the Juneau School District are “unprecedented,” and asked for continued support from the CBJ Assembly. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

School board members said Monday that the challenges facing the Juneau School District are “unprecedented,” and asked for continued support from the CBJ Assembly. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

School district and support staff move closer to an agreement

School district and support staff move closer to an agreement

Juneau School District and Juneau Education Support Staff are one step closer to a collective bargaining agreement.

A tentative agreement ratified by JESS members over the weekend was given its first reading during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. The agreement would begin July 1 and end June 30, 2022. The current agreement between the two is set to lapse at the end of this month.

The parties tentatively agreed to a raise of 60 cents per hour per cell — a step on the district’s salary schedule — for fiscal year 2020, a 1 percent raise for the next year, and a 20 cent per cell plus 1 percent increase for fiscal year 22. Increases in monthly health insurance contributions are $25, according to the tentative agreement.

Superintendent Bridget Weiss explained the combination of cent per cell and percent increase tends to balance wage increases among experienced and newer employees.

JESS and the district began meeting in October 2018 to reach the tentative agreement, which will still need a final reading.

The tentative agreement includes a “Me Too” option, which has nothing to do with the infamous social media hashtag.

Instead the option is intended to ensure equality among the different bargaining bodies — JESS, Juneau Education Association and Juneau School Administrative Association — that negotiate separately with the district.

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All three unions have agreements set to expire this summer and have been engaged in talks with the district.

Specifically, the option included in the tentative agreement states JESS members would receive an increase to their wage scale up to the equivalent of the JEA and JSAA.

JESS members would also receive an increase to the employer health insurance contribution up to the equivalent dollar amount if either JEA or JSAA received an employer contribution higher than that negotiated with JESS.

Culture in the schools

Also during the school board meeting, the school board approved acceptance of gifted education materials from Sealaska Heritage Institute. SHI is a nonprofit that perpetuates and preserves Alaska Native culture, art, language and more.

The tools and supplies donated have an estimated value of $37,400, according to a letter included in the board’s meeting packet.

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That materials donated included $20,000 in carving and wood shop tools and supplies, $1,000 in Northwest Coast art basketry supplies, $6,000 in Northwest Coast woolen weaving supplies, $4,400 in classroom supplies, $3,000 in additional project materials, $1,500 in Northwest Coast formline art design supplies, $1,500 of books.

“It’s just one of those really great partnerships, and the materials are so helpful to us,” Weiss said. “It was really generous, and the board was excited.”

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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