Negotiations between the school district and ESSA see progress in the new year

The new year brings hope for a new contract.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 8:58 AM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With the new year, new progress has been made in the on going battle to create new contracts between staffing unions and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

It’s been more than half a year since contracts between staff unions and the school district have expired. However, only one month into 2023, both sides are once again seeing progress in their negotiations.

On Jan. 13, the Education Support Staff Association (ESSA) and the school district were able to come to tentative agreements on five articles for their next contract. The progress comes as the two sides have been working with a federal mediator, helping to continue negotiations. ESSA represents staff such as custodians, teachers aids and meal servers.

In 2022 the two sides of the bargaining table have faced difficulties moving forward in their efforts to create a new contract. In early Oct. the school district declared they were at an impasse with the Fairbanks Education Association (FEA). This union represents educators and while they have faced more difficulty with negotiations than ESSA, they have continued to work with the district to keep moving forward.

Despite making progress with a mediator, scheduled bargaining sessions between the unions and the school district are facing delays. After the last mediated session, the next meeting was scheduled for Feb. 23, “but because of a last minute change with ESSA,” that date has been pushed back to March, said Karen Melin, the chief school administrator for the district. “They had to change mediators and we wanted to use the same mediator for both bargaining units,” Melin said. Due to the change, the FEA, who was scheduled for the next bargaining session, won’t be able to meet with the district until March 1.

The previous contract for both unions expired on June 30, 2022.