The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and two employee associations — The Kenai Peninsula Borough Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Education Support Association — negotiate for a new contract on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, at the Soldotna High School Library, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and two employee associations — The Kenai Peninsula Borough Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Education Support Association — negotiate for a new contract on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, at the Soldotna High School Library, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

School board to mull educators’ contract proposal

The proposal will be considered by the school board Monday.

The school district and two employee associations met all day Thursday, in hopes of coming closer to a contract, but no agreement was made.

The two employee associations, Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, did offer a new contract proposal to the district, which will be considered by the school board Monday.

“We spoke a lot about specific budget line items, and the associations put an offer across the table that the district is considering,” President of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association David Brighton said.

Pegge Erkeneff, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s communications liaison, said the district’s cost analysis of the association’s offer shows the salary and health insurance cost to the district would deplete the unassigned general fund balance (savings) of $3.9 million, and require additional funds beyond that.

“A fair and reasonable cost to the employees also require a fair and reasonable cost (to) the district,” Erkeneff said.

Erkeneff said the groups agreed to meet again Wednesday. The time and place for the meeting is still undetermined, she said.

Brighton said the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education will have a chance to authorize the contract at its board meeting Monday in Homer.

For over a year and a half, contract negotiations between the borough school district and the associations have snagged on the rising cost of health care.

“As both sides recognize, the outstanding issue is the formula to apportion the cost of health care insurance between the school district and employees,” Erkeneff said.

A previous agreement effective through June 2018 remains in use for employees without contracts.

After contract negotiations with the district hit a standstill, peninsula educators and staff voted May 22 to strike, with more than 75% of certified staff voting “yes” on a walkout.

The associations announced last month a potential strike date of Sept. 16, but said the date is not a notification that a strike will happen.

If and when the associations decide to call a strike, they are required to notify the superintendent 72 hours in advance. The superintendent will notify staff, parents, community partners, contractors and others of the strike’s start date.

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