Kenai give pink slips to 32 teachers

Posted: Monday, April 08, 2002

SOLDOTNA (AP) -- Thirty-two Kenai Peninsula Borough School District teachers got an unwelcome handout from their employer last week -- a pink slip.

Responding to budget woes and declining enrollment, the layoffs involved teachers from 19 different schools, mostly at the elementary level. Twenty-three of the positions were temporary, although the district had hoped to retain them, said Donna Peterson, the superintendent.

District officials announced at a recent school board meeting that layoffs were coming, but Peterson said that did not make it any easier to hand out the pink slips.

''It's got nothing to do with performance,'' she said. ''We've got really great people that we're saying, 'Right now, we don't have a place for you. And we may never have a place for you.'''

Hans Bilben, president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, said the layoffs might be part of the negotiating strategy.

''With the negotiations going on and the way things have been going, I wouldn't rule out the fact that this could be just another one of their bargaining ploys,'' Bilben said.

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