As the months go on, we continue to see the differences between the Kenai Peninsula School District administration and the two local unions — the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association — drag on.
These disagreements are a drain on time, money, resources and staff hours. They distract all from what should really be the main priority of district administration, teachers and support staff — the education of our children.
To what end is this all when, at this rate, we will be doing it all again just a few months after a new contract is penned?
Most everything else has been agreed upon, but two main points of contention remain — salary/benefits and health care — read: the usual suspects.
The district is maintaining a fiscally conservative standpoint while the unions are fighting for what every employee should get, a chance for a better wage, benefits and health care.
The unions need to keep in mind that fiscal sustainability is not only what’s best for the district, but also for the students and therefore the unions in the long run. The district isn’t crying wolf when it says state funding is unstable and draws the purse string tight.
The district needs to remember that without competitively-paid teachers, we run the risk of losing the best among them to other parts of the state or Outside. With so many changes in education on the horizon, the district can’t be caught unprepared. Teachers are required to be highly qualified and required to have continuing education to keep up those qualifications, both of which cost out-of-pocket money.
So the logical conclusion is to do what two adults do when faced with an impasse — compromise. It’ll take the district surrendering on some points and the unions doing the same on their holdouts. Get everyone in the same room and iron out a three-year contract, or longer, so we can put this issue in the rearview mirror.
In short: We’d like to see these labor talks end swiftly so that both sides can stop talking about their jobs and start doing them. That’s best for the students and that should be everyone’s priority.