Paid to not teach: Anchorage School District reports second-highest non-performance hours paid nationwide



Should public school teachers be paid not to teach? School districts and other government bodies often pay employees full wages and benefits for performing union work instead of their official duties. Examples abound from states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.

“Release time” pays teachers not to teach and instead spend time and taxpayer money working for the teacher’s union. Most governments do not track how much release time costs taxpayers, although jurisdictions often exempt thousands of hours per year.  

The Goldwater Institute tracked release time for three government agencies in each state for fiscal year 2019. For Alaska, the Department of Corrections, the City of Juneau, and the Anchorage School District (ASD) were selected for analysis. The Department of Corrections reported 460 hours at the cost of $25,586 in pay and benefits, while the City of Juneau reported 1,215 hours at the cost of $56,076 in pay and benefits. 

The Anchorage School District reported 5,124 hours of release time but did not track the cost of those hours. Education in Alaska is funded mostly through state revenues and local revenues; state revenues are predominantly financed through taxes and investment earnings from resource development, while local revenues are often derived from property taxes. Although most school districts around the country that the Goldwater Institute selected for analysis do not track release time hours or did not respond to the request for data, ASD reported the second-highest release time hours of those districts that did respond. The only district that exceeded Anchorage, Denver Public Schools in Colorado, reported 8,479 hours at a cost of $317,165, or almost 50% more hours than Anchorage.

What do Anchorage School District collective bargaining agreements say about release time? Frighteningly little, given that the school district pays full salary and benefits for release hours—not the unions. The district’s agreement, in effect from July 2021 to June 2024, with the Anchorage Council of Education/American Federation of Teachers Local 4425 states that, for meetings occurring between ACE and the district at least once a month, “Release time shall be provided to an ACE representative, in addition to the President, to attend these meetings.”  

Section 303J also gives the Anchorage Council of Education/AFT the option to purchase an additional 30 days of release time for a member to use for ACE activities at the employee’s current “per diem” (per day) rate. Notably, Section 303I also states, “A maximum of seventy-five (75) days per fiscal year shall be allocated for employees to participate in ACE activities,” with the union providing 10 workdays of notice to labor relations.  

The district’s agreement with the Anchorage Education Association gives special education members “release time to administer alternate assessment tests” and three days per quarter for “meetings, testing and evaluation, data collection, paperwork, collaboration, child find duties, and consultation.” The previous bargaining agreement allocated two days per quarter. 

The Anchorage Principals’ Association agreement with the district in Section 203C states that “The District will provide leave for Association members on an as-needed and not-to-interfere basis for legitimate representation activities…” The TOTEM Association of Educational Support Personnel agreement also provides paid leave for up to six employees to engage in negotiations with the district.  

Similarly, the agreement with the Food Service Bargaining Unit, General Teamsters Local 959, allows up to seven shop stewards to “handle requests, complaints, and grievances…during working hours” and “suffer no loss of compensation for a reasonable amount of time spent in pursuit of these duties.”

The agreement with the Warehouse and Maintenance Employees of the Teamsters Local 959 has a similar clause (5.02) but specifies that “the District is not expected to subsidize meetings of groups of stewards except on occasion.” 

Read the rest of this story at Alaska Policy Forum.


  1. This is not news. Alaska has low standards. Everyone is waiting for a big pfd. Teachers take more time off than their counterparts in the lower 48. It’s not just the teachers.

  2. Oh yeah! Our Tax $$$ NOT hard at work. Actually they are hard at work, just not for us. This is a very sweet deal for the unions, who have these members further their cause, while we the taxpayers have the privilege to pay for what most likely ends up higher demands at the next negotiation. Considering the school year only has 180 days, it could mean that some union members are out for almost half of the time on union business. No wonder our kids learn little, but the ASD budget gets bigger every year.

  3. Yet they need more money. It’s expensive to indoctrinate kids while promoting perversion and child mutilation.

    If you live your kids, get them out of public education

  4. Teacher Aryeh Eller asked girls to lift their shirts to show him their butts, lewdly remarked on their breasts, hugged and kissed them and claimed that he “had a hard time teaching” with the way they dressed, investigators found. He even admitted having a “crush” on a teen.

    Aryeh Eller 53, hasn’t set foot in a classroom for two decades, he remains on the city payroll. Last year, he made $132,753.

    Eller has been paid at least $1.7 million in salary, with summers off plus full health and pension benefits.


    700 NYC teachers paid to do nothing
    Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day.


  5. There are elementary child can use those hours having teacher using it bettering reading skill. Alaska be glad my 3rd grader has a 6th-7th grade. So it can be done. But parent or teacher can’t be lazy. I walk out my own talk. The
    parents can’t control employees, but they can read to their child 3-4 hours a day, to increase their child’s resilience..

  6. Don’t let Frank Rast read this. He’s still mad about mayor Sullivan buying that accounting program that never worked. Although I get the feeling he doesn’t care when liberals waste our money.

  7. That’s another reason myself and family will never vote for school district bonds. I tell all my friends and anybody I know to vote no on school district funds. We have 2 teachers in the family that agree.

  8. So we pay school district employees to work for the union that holds us hostage over taxes and funding. That should be against the law.

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