School district, associations still stuck on health care

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, January 14, 2016 9:23pm
  • News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, support staff and teacher associations met again on Wednesday to discuss the unresolved issue of health care for contract negotiations that began nearly one year ago.

Anchorage-based lawyer Saul Friedman, who represents the school district negotiating team, turned down the Kenai Peninsula Education and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations’ joint proposal from Oct. 14 as it stood, and made a counter offer.

The associations’ Oct. 14 proposal would drop the school district’s current traditional health care plan and only include a high deductible plan. The school district would pay 100 percent of the costs after the deductible, versus the 85 percent it is currently paying.

“The school district’s Wednesday counter is a high deductible plan which includes 100 percent of the monthly cost paid, but with a $1,500 cap on the per employee, per month plan cost,” said Pegge Erkeneff, school district spokesperson. “If an employee does utilize health care, the employee will pay a deductible until a maximum out of pocket is reached.”

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President Matt Fischer said because there is no statement addressing who is responsible for covering anything above $1,500, the employee would then be covering 100 percent of the costs. It is also lower than what the school district is currently paying, which is a cap of $1,580 per month.

The associations’ proposal states the school district can “enjoy all savings benefited from reduced usage through a High Deductible Plan.”

Friedman said the proposal would increase annual costs by $1.1 million, which is why the school district would not accept the Oct. 14 offer.

He said he understands why the counter plan was proposed because it saves the school district’s employees significant money, but it doesn’t include equal returns for the school district.

After hearing Friedman’s response, the associations met to caucus and came back with a counter.

They offered the school district a cap on its per employee, per month plan cost of $1,700. The school district would pay 85 percent for anything above the per month cap.

The associations agreed to take the 100 percent coverage off the table.

Fischer said he fears the school district’s high deductible plan was not well researched, “and has an unpredictable cost.”

“Employees are willing to try this model, but we are not willing to be the ones that pay an increase if they are wrong,” Fischer said. “If they believe the high deductible plan will equal savings, then they will have no problem accepting our counter proposal.”

Erkeneff said once the subject of health care is hammered out, the groups will re-address salaries and benefits.

Friedman said he would get back to the associations about their Wednesday offer within the week.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo, U.S. Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, speaks during a ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska. The longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House is appearing in a new round of ads urging Alaskans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ads featuring Young are being paid for by the Conquer COVID Coalition, Young spokesperson Zack Brown said by email Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Young urges vaccination in new ads

Young, 88, “believes the vaccines are safe, effective and can help save lives.”

A portable sign on the Sterling Highway advertises a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinaton booster clinic held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
What you need to know about boosters

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility explained

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell (center) presents Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid (left) with a Life-Saving Award for her efforts in rescuing a child from the Kenai River offshore of North Kenai Beach this summer, during a ceremony held by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Oct. 13, 2021. Reid and Kenai River dipnetter Antoine Aridou (far right) rescued the 12-year-old on July 29, 2021. (Photo provided by the Office of the Governor)
Governor recognizes dipnetter, trooper for summer rescue

Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid received a Life-Saving Award and Antoine Aridou received a Governor’s Commendation.

COVID-19 (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 3 more COVID deaths, more than 900 cases

The newly reported deaths push Alaska’s total to 594 COVID fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.

In this July 1908 photograph provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear sits at anchor while on Bering Sea Patrol off Alaska. The wreckage of the storied vessel, that served in two World Wars and patrolled frigid Arctic waters for decades, has been found, the Coast Guard said Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office via AP)
Coast Guard: Wreck found in Atlantic is storied cutter Bear

The ship performed patrols in waters off Alaska for decades.

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

Most Read