Educators of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District notified administrators Friday of their intent to strike beginning Tuesday after a long disagreement over health coverage.
Unions representing teaching and support staffs blamed the school district for not addressing the concerns of members who want health insurance premiums comparable to those of similar Alaska school districts.
“KPBSD’s most recent offer would mean public school employees on the Kenai would pay double what any other public school employee in a comparable district pays for health care premiums,” the Kenai Peninsula Education Association and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association said in a joint statement.
The school district said it was surprised by the 72-hour strike notice Friday because a counteroffer was in the works.
“The association’s spokesperson and district spokesperson were communicating with the fact that the district was preparing a counteroffer that would meet the cost concerns of salary and health care,” the school district said in an online statement.
As of noon Saturday, the unions had not received a counteroffer and were unaware of the details, said Kenai Peninsula Education Association president David Brighton.
"I hope they can provide something that will prevent a strike, and the best way to do that is to accept our offer,” he said.
As negotiations deteriorated in May, teachers and support staff voted to strike, with 75% in favor if the school district did not present a plan to lower health care premiums, the unions’ statement said.
Educators have been working under the terms of the previous contract that expired June 30, 2018.
If there is a strike on Tuesday, all of the district’s schools will be closed, including homeschool and charter programs, and all before-and-after school programs, such as athletics and usage of all facilities, will be suspended.