District, unions continue talks

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the Kenai Peninsula Education Association on Friday reached a tentative agreement on three sections of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The agreement keeps the current language of the CBA for three sections, including Section 446, due process; Section 463, subcontracting; and Section 560 conformity to law.

Both sides presented proposals Friday during a negotiation session at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Risk Assessment building in Soldotna. Negotiations have been ongoing since the beginning of the year. The Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association is still negotiating terms with the district and no agreement between the two has yet been reached.

The district’s Friday proposal to KPEA addressed three sections — Section 550, which pertains to the association fee, would remain status quo. The current contract states “employees represented by the bargaining unit shall not be required to join KPEA; however, all employees who choose not to join KPEA shall be required to pay as condition of employment a representation fee to KPEA.” The annual representation fee for non-members is $863, while KPEA members pay $1,152, KPEA President LaDawn Druce said in an earlier interview.

The second section of the proposal was to keep Section 343, donation of sick leave, status quo. In the current contract, “members shall be allowed to donate sick leave to and receive sick leave from leave eligible members.” The most a person can receive or donate is 20 days, according to the contract. In an earlier proposal by the district, that number was changed to 10 days, but it was not agreed upon.

The third component of the district’s offer proposed a change for Section 121, extracurricular salary schedule.

“The language is status quo, but we’ve added 1 percent to each of the ranges,” KPBSD representative Sean Dusek said. 

KPEA also introduced proposals of its own. The union adjusted its proposal for Section 105, salary schedule. The new proposal calls for an increase in each cell of 2.8 percent to account for inflation, which is based on the cost of living, which is the consumer price index, provided by the U.S. Department of Labor for the Anchorage area in June, with an additional 3 percent added to each cell on the salary schedule, and a step in the salary schedule. The U.S. Department of Labor produces an inflation estimate twice a year, in June and January.

KPEA’s original proposal called for a 5 percent increase to each cell of the schedule, in addition to 3.2 percent CPI, which represents the January CPI, along with a step in the salary schedule.

The union also re-proposed its 90/10 health care split to the district. The district estimates each qualified employee’s health care costs will be $1,600. Under KPEA’s proposal, the district would pay $1,440, while the employee would pay $160.

KPEA presented a package of two sections of the contract that have a sunset of March 26. The package includes Section 345, unpaid leave of absence and Section 110, salary conditions. The proposal for unpaid leave of absence would approve the district’s proposal, which means unpaid leave would not be granted if a teacher was seeking K-12 employment in other states. The current contract states, “A teacher may, upon written request to the superintendent and with approval from the School Board, be granted an unpaid leave of absence for illness, professional study, or for personal reasons.”

“We’re tying this to 110 (salary conditions),” KPEA representative Joe Rizzo said. “Because by essentially agreeing to this, we are giving up a benefit that an employee could go and try another job.”

The district’s proposal would also cut short leave of two weeks to six days. In return, KPEA’s proposal for the salary conditions section, says that credits or continuing education credits (CEU’s) earned after initial placement on the salary schedule will be evaluated by the Human Resources Department, and must qualify under at least one of the following:

n Taken as part of a completed advance degree;

n Relate to an immediate assignment;

n Approved by the Department of Education and Early Development.

The union’s proposal also says that CEUs will not be awarded for clinics or workshops associated with offerings from the KPBSD Professional Development Department that occur during the school day or employee receives a stipend for.

The next negotiation session is scheduled for March 26 at the 4D building in Soldotna.

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