School district, associations schedule arbitration

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, January 25, 2016 11:06pm
  • News

The next time the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators and the support staff and teacher associations meet for negotiations will be in the presence of an advisory arbitrator.

A hearing with Gary Axon, an Oregon-based arbitrator jointly selected by the three teams, is scheduled for June 1-2. On that date it would be nearly 14 months since collective bargaining began for contracts that were supposed to take effect July 1, 2015.

“Salary and other items that have a financial impact still remain to be resolved,” said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff. “Unfortunately, until the increasing costs of the current health care plan are contained, KPBSD cannot adequately address these issues because increased salary schedules and increases in added duty stipends only increase the (school) district’s budget deficit, and may require further reductions in staff and programs for students.”

At the teams’ most recent meeting on Jan. 13, the sole proposed option of a high deductible health care plan with an employee opt-out was the only topic addressed. Saul Friedman, an Anchorage-based attorney, represented the school district and Matt Fischer represented the Kenai Peninsula Education and Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations.

In February 2015, the school district originally proposed keeping the current traditional health care plan and adding the option of a high deductible plan. In a counter proposal made Oct. 14, the associations proposed eliminating the traditional plan and only having the option of a high deductible plan.

Employees who chose to sign up for health care with the school district would pay a deductible until a maximum out-of-pocket is reached in the proposed high deductible plan.

The school district preferred a $1,500 cap on the per employee, per month plan costs, and the associations preferred a $1,700 cap with the school district paying for 85 percent of an employee’s medical expenses once the cap is reached.

Fischer said the contracts should address who is responsible for costs once the per employee, per month plan cap is reached; otherwise, the employees would be responsible for 100 percent.

Friedman said the school district would not realize enough savings from the association’s current official proposal, submitted on Oct. 14.

Fischer said he wants administrators to do more cost comparisons to other school districts that offer a high deductible plan. He said the school district’s current proposal isn’t guaranteed to save money, and the employees don’t want to be responsible for paying more if the school district has misjudged the effectiveness of the new plan.

Axon’s input in June is not legally binding.

He will issue a report compiled through interviews and cross-examinations of witnesses, much “like an informal court hearing,” Erkeneff said. It will include analysis of written briefs submitted by both negotiating teams supporting their positions, she said.

It is the second time in a decade that the school district has entered arbitration, Erkeneff said in a previous Clarion interview.

The teams and the school district split the cost of hiring Axon, she said.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Local candidates report support from state PACs

Labor unions and the National Education Association are among the groups putting money into Kenai Peninsula state election races

Signs and examples on the recycling super sack at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio show which plastics are desired as part of the project in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 11, 2022. Plastics from types 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be deposited.(Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local nonprofit accepting plastics for synthetic lumber project

The super sack receptacles can be found on either side of Soldotna

This July 28, 2022, photo shows drag queen Dela Rosa performing in a mock election at Cafecito Bonito in Anchorage, Alaska, where people ranked the performances by drag performers. Several organizations are using different methods to teach Alaskans about ranked choice voting, which will be used in the upcoming special U.S. House election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Groups get creative to help Alaska voters with ranked voting

Organizations have gotten creative in trying to help voters understand how to cast their ballot, as the mock election featuring drag performers shows

A school bus outside of Kenai Central High School advertises driver positions on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Staff shortage, gas prices change school bus routes

The changes do not apply to the district’s special education students

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The show goes on as Triumvirate seeks funding for new theater

The troupe has staged shows and events and is looking to debut a documentary as it raise funds for new playhouse

Aaron Surma, the executive director for National Alliance on Mental Illness Juneau and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, leads a safety plan workshop Tuesday night hosted by NAMI and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. The workshop was a collaborative brainstorming session with Juneau residents about how to create a safety plan that people can use to help someone who is experiencing a mental health or suicide crisis. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Study shows a rise in anxiety and depression among children in Alaska

Increase may indicate growing openness to discussing mental health, according to experts

Alaska Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer addresses election information and misinformation during a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. (Screenshot)
With a week to go, officials work to clear up election confusion

Officials provided updated ballot statistics, fielded questions from reporters and clarified misconceptions about the current election cycle

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 21 new COVID deaths; cases down from last week

20 of the reported deaths took place from May to July

A closeup of one of the marijuana plants at Greatland Ganja in Kasilof, Alaska, as seen on March 19, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly streamlines process for marijuana establishment license applications

License applications will now go straight to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for consideration

Most Read