School nurses will see a $5-per-hour increase in their pay after the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education approved an agreement seeking to address vacancies in school nursing at their Monday meeting.
In a unanimous vote, the school board agreed to let the district enter into an agreement with the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, and increase school nurse pay by $5 per hour using federal COVID-19 relief funds. The increase in pay is set to expire at the end of 2020-2021 school year.
“We all agree that during this global pandemic that it is essential that we do all we can to ensure that all of our nursing positions are filled and that we can recruit and retain quality nurses here on the Kenai Peninsula,” Superintendent John O’Brien said at the Monday school board meeting.
The district is experiencing nursing vacancies due to public health offices and local medical practices offering “significantly more per hour” than the district’s salary schedule for licensed nurses, documents in the school board agenda said.
‘We can’t afford to lose any more (nurses) through resignations and it was really hard to fill these positions in the first place because our pay rate for our nurses is significantly lower for the going rate for their work in and around the community,” Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association President Anne McCabe said.
McCabe said board members should be setting an example for district employees and students by having school board meetings in person, “to show us that you’re leading the way, that you’re taking the leadership role of saying ‘we believe it’s safe, therefore we too will gather.”
At Monday’s meeting, the school board voted to move future meetings to the Kenai Central High School auditorium.
• By Victoria Petersen, For the Peninsula Clarion