School district and employee unions' negotiations continue following recommendations from arbitrator

May 6, 2019

Credit Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

A third-party arbitrator has released recommendations on how it thinks the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and employee unions should settle an ongoing dispute over renewing employee contracts.

There are stark disagreements over healthcare costs, wages and personal leave.

Arbitrator Dorothy Fallon recommended that the district provide .5-percent salary increase for staff this year followed by 1 and 2-percent increases the following two years, something both employee unions have pushed for.

David Brighton is the president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association. 

“I think that it's good that she recognized the need for increased wages,” he said. “I'm concerned that she didn't do anything to help the increasing cost of healthcare.”

Currently, the school district offers two different healthcare plans, which determine how much the district will contribute toward employee premiums. However, employees and the district have been splitting premiums for the last couple of years because total healthcare spending in the district reached the cap laid out in the current collective bargaining agreement. Both employee unions have opposed that cap in negotiations, but Fallon only recommended modifying the cap’s structure for support staff. She also did not recommend increasing employees’ paid vacation.

Pegge Erkeneff is the spokesperson for the district. She says the district does not have a reaction to the recommendations at this time.

“The district is analyzing the cost of that and then what it would take to fund the report that the advisor put forward," she said.

Fallon also advised that the school district provide a 3-year contract for staff and teachers because of historically drawn-out negotiations between the two parties.

The school district and both unions will continue negotiations on Wednesday.