An additional personal day and new health care premium rates are among the proposed changes outlined in tentative agreements reached by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District with unions representing district teachers and district support staff. The bargaining agreements, if ratified, would be in effect from July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2024.
The Kenai Peninsula Education Association (KPEA) is the union that represents the school district’s teachers. The Kenai Peninsula Educational Support Association (KPESA) is the union that represents the school district’s support staff.
For each agreement, members from their respective unions will have from Aug. 13 to Aug. 27 to vote on the agreement. If a majority of members vote in favor of the agreement, it will go up for a vote by the KPBSD Board of Education. A vote in favor of the agreement by the board would ratify the agreement.
Though the agreements apply to all employees, only union members are allowed to vote on the agreement.
“We are pleased with how negotiations went over the last year,” KPEA President Nathan Erfurth said in a video announcing KPEA’s tentative agreement.
Teaching and support staff would be awarded a one-time payment of $1,500, prorated per full-time equivalent under the tentative agreements. Teachers would see a 1% increase to their salary schedule during the 2022-2023 school year and a 2% increase to their salary schedule during the 2023-2024 school year.
For support staff, employees on salary schedule Range 1 would be moved to Range 2 and employees on Range 2 would be moved to Range 3.
Under the tentative agreements, health care for district teachers and support staff would change monthly premiums from a composite rate to a four-tiered rate.
The four tiers would be: employee only, employee plus spouse, employee plus children and employee plus family. The employee’s monthly nine-month costs are estimated to range from $231.03 to $739.30 depending on their plan. Monthly premiums refer to the amount of money someone pays for insurance each month.
Additionally, if the district’s reserve account has a balance of more than $3.25 million and the employees’ reserve account has a balance of more than $1 million, a $500 premium credit will be awarded for each plan participant in January of 2023.
The new health care plan would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2023, with enrollment open from Nov. 15, 2022 through Dec. 15, 2022.
For both teaching and support staff, the tentative agreements would grant an additional day of personal leave and allow employees to accumulate up to 10 personal days instead of eight. Teaching and support staff would be allowed to donate sick leave as long as they have at least 10 days for themselves, except in the case of a teacher who is resigning or retiring who can donate all of their days.
For district teaching and support staff, the new agreements would increase sick leave for bereavement following the death of a spouse, fiance or child and clarify bereavement eligibility. Rules stating that bereavement could not apply to a student or colleague outside of the employees building would also be removed.
KPEA President Nathan Erfurth said Friday that other highlights of KPEA’s tentative agreement are changes to how the district considers years of experience when hiring new teaching staff, which he said will make the district more competitive when compared to other Alaska school districts.
When hiring new teachers under the tentative agreement, the district would recognize more experience for initial placement on the salary schedule. For example, KPBSD would recognize all experience with KPBSD — even if a teacher left the district and is looking to return. KPBSD would also recognize 12 years of in-state school experience, eight years of out-of-state experience if the applicant holds a master’s degree and six years of out-of-state experience if the applicant holds a bachelor’s degree.
More information about KPEA and KPESA’s tentative bargaining agreements can be found on the unions’ shared website at kpea-kpesa.org.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.