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Kenai Peninsula school employees reject district contract proposals

KENAI - Two Alaska school employee associations have rejected contract proposals from their district, officials said.

The Kenai Peninsula Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Support Association rejected the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s latest proposals after a daylong negotiation Wednesday, The Peninsula Clarion reported.

"We rejected proposals because they don't meet our needs for the rising cost of health care," said David Brighton, president of the education association.

Negotiations are expected to resume Monday between the school district, the education association representing teachers and the support association for non-tenured teachers and support personnel, officials said.

In February, the district and the associations hired an arbitrator to help guide contract negotiations that have lasted months and failed to produce an agreement. The arbitrator presented recommendations in an April 26 report.

"The district proposal accepts the recommendations in the arbitrator's report," district communications liaison Pegge Erkeneff said in a statement Wednesday.

The report acknowledged the heath care funding challenges facing district administrators, as well as evidence from the associations about the high share paid by employees.

Kenai school employees "experience higher costs than virtually all of the other comparable districts," including Anchorage and Fairbanks, the report said.

Association proposals include incorporating wellness incentives into a health care plan, which district negotiators said they would consider with more time to study potential cost savings.

The district employs 1,200 staff in 42 schools serving K-12 students, according to the district's website.

A previous agreement effective through June 2018 remains in use for employees without contracts.

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