School board approves some non-tenure teacher contracts

The jobs weren’t secure due to fiscal uncertainty around Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget

Sixty two non-tenured teachers will avoid pink slips at the end of this year.

At Thursday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting, the school board moved to offer contracts to more than 60 teachers across the district. The jobs weren’t secure due to fiscal uncertainty around Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget and the local contribution from the borough. Education funding is in a more certain place, now that Gov. Dunleavy has promised to not veto education funding and the borough says they’ll fund to the cap, or to the maximum allowable by statute.

“The only reason the district waited on Non-Tenured teacher contracts was due to the fiscal uncertainty of state funding for FY20,” Pegge Erkeneff, communications liaison for the district, said in an email.

The contracts are based on contracts that were set to expire last June, but are still in effect. Since May 8, the district and two employee associations, Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, have been negotiating a new contract in several collective bargaining meetings, to replace the outdated agreement. Thursday’s session ended with no contract, and no plans for further meetings. David Brighton, president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, told the Clarion last week that the associations were considering a strike.

“It’s been a long difficult legislative session,” Brighton said at the meeting. “I’m happy to see we’re not looking at any cuts, according to what the Legislature says. I’m happy the borough has given us some assurance they’ll fund to the cap. I’m concerned that several teachers are not on the list. I don’t know how many, but I hope they get contracts soon, but thank you for putting 62 names out tonight.”

The number of teachers still waiting on contracts is unclear at this time. School board member Jason Tauriainen’s wife was on the list of non-tenured teachers set to receive a contract. He abstained from voting due to a conflict interest.

“I’m very pleased we’re offering these contracts,” school board member Debbie Carey said. “All of our employees are hardworking and unique and we appreciate what you do.”