Update, 4:35 a.m.
District officials are now saying that schools will be open Tuesday, with a two-hour delay, after the school district and two employee associations reached a tentative agreement in the early morning hours.
Read full statement below:
At 1:37 AM, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD), the Kenai Peninsula Education Association (KPEA) and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association (KPESA) reached a Tentative Agreement, for a three year contract for the time period of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.
*All 42 KPBSD schools will open with a two-hour delay start on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Student absences will be excused—simply call the school. Sports and after-school activities will take place on a normal Tuesday schedule.
“After months of hard work and strained emotions the bargaining teams came together tonight in the spirit of compromise,” said Superintendent John O’Brien. “Together we can all now focus on our core mission: educating the children of the Kenai. I look forward to working together with our staff and this community to advocate for public education on behalf of our students. Together we will continue to innovate and lead our state with the high quality of education we provide to our students.”
“Working together, we were able to find a creative solution with the District that will keep kids in class and educators working,” said Anne McCabe, President of KPESA. “This process has drawn on for nearly two years and I’m pleased that we’ve reached a tentative agreement that values our educators and the students they work with every day.”
“This tentative agreement represents a big step forward for everyone working to improve the lives of Kenai Peninsula students,” said David Brighton, KPEA President. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and I’m pleased that we are able to find a compromise with the District.”
“I am extremely pleased that both negotiating teams have reached an agreement and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District can get back to doing what it does best: educating our students through the many quality programs and activities it has put in place and preparing them for their future,” said Penny Vadla, Board of Education President. “We, as a board, are looking forward to a bright future.”
As contract negotiations with two education associations dragged late into the night Monday, school district officials announced a school closure for Tuesday.
The closure was announced in advance of a strike the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association had slated to start at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
After contract negotiations hit a standstill last week, the education associations notified the school district Friday of their intent to strike.
David Brighton, president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, said Saturday that he hoped the school board would come out of the executive session planned for Monday night ready to sign a contract and avoid a strike.
At 9:30 p.m. Monday, the district team presented a package proposal to the educator association bargaining teams, Pegge Erkeneff, district director of communications, said in a 10:30 p.m. letter to parents and guardians.
“It is likely bargaining will continue late into the evening, so at this time, plan for no school on Tuesday, September 17, 2019,” Erkeneff said.
Brighton said just after 10 p.m. that the associations were reviewing the offer from the school district put forward following the executive session. Brighton said the education associations intended to look it over and respond once they understood it. As of press deadline at 10:45 p.m., Brighton did not provide an answer on whether teachers would strike and be on picket lines Tuesday.
The associations and the district have been negotiating for a contract for nearly 600 days, and bargaining has snagged on the rising cost of health care.
If a strike does occur, it will continue until a tentative agreement is reached between the district and associations. Once a tentative agreement is reached, the district will notify the public. Depending on when the agreement is reached, school will be reopened accordingly.
The bargaining teams from the associations and the district — on behalf of what the school board has authorized — are responsible for coming to a tentative agreement.
Should a strike happen, principals will not be participating and will be on-site at their schools during working hours. Signs will be posted at every school notifying the community of the school’s closure.
In the case of a strike, every school in the district would be closed, including Connections Homeschool, charter and alternative schools, and distance delivery programs. School closures include all before and after-school activities, sports, community school activities, pools, and any rentals or usage of school facilities, including Boys & Girls Clubs activities in every district school or facility. Only individuals approved by the superintendent will have access schools and facilities.
Make up of any canceled high school sports and extracurricular activities are subject to the rules of Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association (KPSAA), affiliate region boards, and Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA). Some may or may not be able to be made up.
Days and staff work days that are missed due to a strike must be made up, and will be added to the end of the 2019-2020 school year calendar in May.