School district, unions exchange initial contract offers

A little more than a year after they concluded collective bargaining, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and its teacher and staff unions are back in negotiations.

The groups kicked off their collective bargaining process on Feb. 15 and exchanged initial offers. The school district administration has proposed a one-year contract for teachers, lasting through 2019, with slight increases to the salary schedule.

The Kenai Peninsula Education Association, which represents teachers, has asked for a three-year contract with a .5 percent pay increase the first year, a 1 percent increase the following year and a 2 percent increase in the third year. The Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, which represents the district’s support staff, asked for the same annual raise rates in its contract. The teacher’s union has also asked for an additional $3,000 annually for employees certified through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Health insurance costs were a major sticking point in the last negotiation cycle, with the school district asking to shift more of the cost to employees and the unions contesting that. The disagreements over health care and wages dragged out negotiations for more than a year and a half, finally concluding in November 2016.

The Kenai Peninsula Education Association has asked in its initial offer for the school district to remove the cap from the district’s contribution to health insurance premiums. The Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association has asked for the same in its initial offer.

The school district’s initial offer inserts a section to the contract saying that the health insurance broker will estimate the final costs for the district’s two health care plans — a traditional plan and a high-deductible health plan — and that estimate will determine the payroll deductions for each plan. It clarifies that the school district’s Health Care Program Committee, which includes members of the union, an administrator and three other employees, will determine the final rate but it cannot be more than the broker’s estimate and the plans have to remain separated.

Health care costs have been one of the highest pressure points for the school district. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education convened a separate committee on health care to help address costs, and during a joint meeting with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Feb. 6, district Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones explained that the administration recently decided to implement a health program that will send employees out of state for some surgeries and medical treatments in an effort to save money.

The next collective bargaining session is scheduled for March 1 at 10 a.m. Public comment is currently open on the school district’s website and can be submitted in paper by mail or in person at the George A. Navarre Borough Administration Building in Soldotna.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at eearl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Spencer McLean and his daughter, Emma McLean, show their support for Proposition 3, through which a new CES Station 1 would be constructed in Soldotna, on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Blustery weather, average turnout mark municipal election day

Up for consideration this year were city council, board of education and assembly seats, as well as a handful of propositions affecting borough schools, emergency services and legislative representation

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander sits inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ostrander to leave City of Kenai in January

Ostrander has served as the city manager since 2017

Melanie Hardin, right, greets the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees before her interview for the APFC’s executive director’s job Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Permanent Fund board picks new executive director

Trustees work overtime selecting from three candidates after interviews Monday

A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Libraries host haunted houses, scary storytimes, seasonal crafts

It’s all about Halloween at Kenai and Soldotna libraries

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Carol Freas (right) helps a voter fill out absentee election materials in Kenai City Hall ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Absentee voting already underway

Absentee in-person voting has been made available across the borough

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
What’s on the ballot: Reapportionment, new field house, school bond

Voters will decide on ballot measures that address schools, public safety and legislative bodies

Cars line up ahead of dismissal at Mountain View Elementary School on Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. A bond package up for consideration by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Oct. 4 would fund improvements to the school’s traffic flow. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Parking lot problems

Lack of space for pickup and drop-offs creates traffic jam at elementary school

Most Read