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

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska redistricting board picks new Senate map after Supreme Court finds a gerrymander

The board could continue work and possibly write a different map for the elections from 2024 onward

A landslide blocks Lowell Point Road in Seward, Alaska, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy City of Seward)
Lowell Point Road to reopen Friday

Intermittent blasting work will continue next week

Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Boys and girls clubs land donation postponed

The issue will be back before the body on June 1

Vehicles are unleaded at the Seward Harbor after being moved from Lowell Point on Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Lowell Point barge services move 110-plus cars to Seward

The services were covered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and ended Monday

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Watershed Forum receives matching grant from Conoco

The Kenai Watershed Forum was given a grant from ConocoPhillips to fund… Continue reading

A beach on the eastern side of Cook Inlet is photographed at Clam Gulch, Alaska, in June 2019. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is implementing new shellfish regulations in Cook Inlet. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Fish and Game closes East Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Cook Inlet… Continue reading

Anastasia Scollon (left) and Willow King (right) stand in The Goods + Sustainable Grocery and Where it’s At mindful food and drink on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sustainable shopping finds new home in Soldotna

The Collective used to operate out of Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Most Read