The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and employee unions are at an impasse again over contract negotiations. On Wednesday, the district proposed contracts, which adopted recommendations put out by a third party arbitrator.
An arbitrator recently recommended that the district increase pay for teachers and staff over the next few years and called on the district to pay a bigger share of healthcare premiums for support staff. The arbitrator also advised that the district stop offering one of its healthcare plans to new hires in order to cut costs for providing coverage.
But the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association did not agree to the district’s proposals. David Brighton is the president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, and he says the proposals didn’t do enough to address the rising costs of healthcare for employees.
“It's unsustainable to move forward with the current healthcare system as it is and we need to have the rising cost addressed, so that employees can afford their health care,” he said. “Because the fact is, if it continues to rise, people are going to leave the district.”
But district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff says the arbitrator accurately and fairly accessed the healthcare situation.
“We know we have to do something and utilizing the associations’ offer is also unsustainable,” she said. “So following the recommendations from the arbitrator is what gives us a possible path forward to sustainability around healthcare for costs for the employees and for the district.”
The parties will meet again on Monday, May 13.