Teacher talks take break for summer

Posted: Thursday, June 22, 2006

With contracts set to expire June 30 and no new pact reached before summer break, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and teacher and support employee associations will continue in a status quo mode until talks resume.

According to Human Resources Director Tim Peterson and Chief Finance Officer Melody Douglas, negotiations between the district and representatives of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association are “presently done for the summer.”

Peterson said it was decided that if contract talks were not complete by the end of the school year, it would be difficult to contact the membership during the summer for a ratification vote, so talks were suspended until Aug. 1.

Following highly contentious teacher contract negotiations three years ago, the school district and the teacher and support staff associations this year elected to use Interest Based Bargaining rather than the traditional form of negotiating.

At the beginning of contract talks, the three bargaining groups received IBB training from a federal mediator.

Described as a “more problem-solving, collaborative approach,” the IBB method asks the three negotiating groups to work together to craft contract language, rather than having each group come to the table with a list of demands.

One of the ground rules set down at the beginning of talks this year is that neither of the groups would issue public statements about the talks. Any information made public would be done so by joint agreement of the three groups.

On Tuesday, Douglas said the IBB method “is an awesome process.”

Peterson said it is much more amiable than traditional bargaining.

At last report, the district, teachers and support staff had agreed on about half of the contract issues, but big items such as money and job security had not yet been addressed.

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