The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and Kenai Education and Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations will sit down Wednesday for the first time since Oregon-based Advisory Arbitrator Gary Axon released his report on the ongoing negotiations that began in February 2015.
KPEA President David Brighton said the scheduled topic for discussion at the meeting, set for 10 a.m. at the 4-D building conference room on the Kenai Spur, is Axon’s decision.
“We are very hopeful that we can agree to a contract,” he said.
In the 29-page document, published on the school district’s website, Axon’s findings include concessions to all three parties in the two major sticking points of health care and salaries and benefits, as well as eight other minor areas. He suggests the negotiating teams agree to meet in the middle on the per-month, per-employee health care plan costs, and the dispute over adding percentage increases to the salary schedule or offering one-time stipends.
In the document, Axon urges the school district and associations to conclude collective bargaining as quickly as possible as contracts were set to begin July 1, 2015, more than a year ago. His decision is not legally binding.
Wednesday’s collective bargaining session will be open to the public, said school district liaison Pegge Erkeneff. She said whatever happens at the meeting will determine the next steps in the process.
Brighton said that could mean anything from reaching an agreement to determining another meeting date.
“Nothing has to happen at this meeting,” he said. “We can keep meeting if we feel like we are making progress toward a contract.”
Once a tentative agreement is reached, the Board of Education must ratify the documents approved by the three negotiating teams.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.