District, associations schedule arbitration

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, January 28, 2016 11:05am
  • News

The next time the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators and the support staff and teacher associations meet for negotiations will be in the presence of an advisory arbitrator.

A hearing with Gary Axon, an Oregon-based arbitrator jointly selected by the three teams, is scheduled for June 1-2. On that date it will be nearly 14 months since collective bargaining began for contracts that were supposed to take effect July 1, 2015.

“Salary and other items that have a financial impact still remain to be resolved,” said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff. “Unfortunately, until the increasing costs of the current health care plan are contained, KPBSD cannot adequately address these issues because increased salary schedules and increases in added duty stipends only increase the (school) district’s budget deficit, and may require further reductions in staff and programs for students.”

At the teams’ most recent meeting on Jan. 13, the sole proposed option of a high deductible health care plan with an employee opt-out was the only topic addressed. Saul Friedman, an Anchorage-based attorney, represented the school district and Matt Fischer represented the Kenai Peninsula Education and Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations.

In February 2015, the school district originally proposed keeping the current traditional health care plan and adding the option of a high deductible plan. In a counter proposal made Oct. 14, the associations proposed eliminating the traditional plan and only having the option of a high deductible plan.

Employees who chose to sign up for health care with the school district would pay a deductible until a maximum out-of-pocket is reached in the proposed high deductible plan.

The school district preferred a $1,500 cap on the per employee, per month plan costs, and the associations preferred a $1,700 cap with the school district paying for 85 percent of an employee’s medical expenses once the cap is reached.

Fischer said the contracts should address who is responsible for costs once the per employee, per month plan cap is reached; otherwise, the employees would be responsible for 100 percent.

Friedman said the school district would not realize enough savings from the association’s current official proposal, submitted on Oct. 14.

Fischer said he wants administrators to do more cost comparisons to other school districts that offer a high deductible plan. He said the school district’s current proposal isn’t guaranteed to save money, and the employees don’t want to be responsible for paying more if the school district has misjudged the effectiveness of the new plan.

Axon’s input in June is not legally binding.

He will issue a report compiled through interviews and cross-examinations of witnesses, much “like an informal court hearing,” Erkeneff said. It will include analysis of written briefs submitted by both negotiating teams supporting their positions, she said.

It is the second time in a decade that the school district has entered arbitration, Erkeneff said in a previous interview with the Peninsula Clarion.

The teams and the school district split the cost of hiring Axon, she said.

Kelly Sullivan is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. She can be reached at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Teaser
Then Now: Looking back on pandemic response

Comparing messaging from 1918 to 2021

Damage in a corner on the inside of the middle and high school building of Kachemak Selo School Nov. 12, 2019, in Kachemak Selo, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Repair costs rise as school facilities deteriorate

About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings.

Golden-yellow birch trees and spruce frame a view of Aurora Lagoon and Portlock Glacier from a trail in the Cottonwood-Eastland Unit of Kachemak Bay State Park off East End Road on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong)
State Parks to hold meeting on Eastland Cottonwood unit

Meeting will include update on Tutka Bay Hatchery bill

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna Trooper arrested for multiple charges of child sex abuse

He has been a State Trooper in Soldotna since June 2020.

This photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. An Alaska state lawmaker was cited for driving with an open can of beer in his vehicle that another lawmaker said was actually his. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Lawmaker cited for open beer fellow legislator says was his

Republican Sen. Josh Revak plans to challenge the $220 ticket.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
This 2011 photo shows the Taku and Malaspina ferries at the Auke Bay Terminal.
Costs add up as ferry idled nearly 2 years

Associated Press The cost to the state for docking an Alaska ferry… Continue reading

The Federal Aviation Administration released an initiative to improve flight safety in Alaska for all aviation on Oct. 14, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
FAA releases Alaska aviation safety initiatives

The recommendations, covering five areas, range from improvements in hardware to data-gathering.

AP Photo / Becky Bohrer
The Alaska Capitol is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. There is interest among lawmakers and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in settling a dispute over the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program, but no consensus on what the program should look like going forward.
Alaskans get annual boost of free money from PFD

Checks of $1,114 are expected to be paid to about 643,000 Alaskans, beginning this week.

Most Read