Associations, school district to meet again

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, March 29, 2016 10:18pm
  • News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will respond to the Kenai Peninsula Education and Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations’ most recent health care proposal Wednesday.

The three negotiating teams will meet at 4 p.m., in the 4D Building conference room in Soldotna to discuss the possibility of the school district signing on with the Public Education Health Trust, the associations’ most recent pitch aimed at resolving the matter of health care.

The associations will provide answers to remaining questions the school district has regarding the proposal’s costs, said Pegge Erkeneff, school district spokesperson.

The Public Education Health Trust is a nonprofit founded by the Alaska branch of the National Education Association, which helps give small and large school districts or educational institutions or organizations access to more affordable health care options by pooling all members into one trust. In 2016, the PEHT has 22 plans included in the trust, 17 of which are school districts. Four are associations and one is an individual school.

Suggesting the PEHT was a shift in direction from the single option of a high-deductible plan, with the chance for employees to opt-out, the three teams had on the table up until late January.

Discussions reached a stalemate when an agreement could not be reached on a per employee, per month cap for the plan, or the percentage of medical expenses the school district would fund once the cap is reached. Oregon-based arbitrator Gary Axon was mutually selected to facilitate a meeting June 1-2. That date is still set, but there is a chance a tentative agreement may be reached before arbitration is necessary.

Aside from health care, the issue of employees’ salaries and benefits has yet to be resolved.

“Any other sections or articles that do not have a tentative agreement are open for negotiation (Wednesday),” Erkeneff said.

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