Salary increases approved for teachers, district administration

At a special meeting Tuesday, April 9, that took about 15 minutes, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education approved the FY 13-15 Kenai Peninsula Education Association (KPEA) Collective Bargaining Agreement for district teachers, and separate agreements for support staff, district office administrators and exempt employees.

The teachers, who have worked without a contract for more than a year, received two-percent pay raises in each of the three years of the contract, according to the KPEA. The increase for time worked this year will be paid retroactively.  (***see bottom of article for KBSD response)

Meanwhile, the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent and other top staff officers asked for, and received salary increases that ranged from 3.1-percent to 3.57 percent, such as a 3.5 percent increase in the superintendent’s pay next fiscal year, and 3.4 percent in 2015.

Teachers and support staff also got positive changes to the amount they will pay toward their medical insurance. For this contract they will receive a fixed cost for medical insurance regardless of the number of family members covered. Also, in the current year they will pay 20 percent of their medical insurance cost, while the district’s share will be 80 percent. Next year that will drop to a 17 percent share, and in the third year to 15 percent.

“I’m happy we can all move forward and focus on educating kids,” said School Board President Joe Arness afterward. Collective bargaining with KPEA and KPESA began January 10, 2012.

“Yesterday’s approval of our new negotiated agreements is an important step for KPBSD,” said Dr. Steve Atwater, the superintendent. “I look forward to our continued collaborative work to help our students find success.” The KPBSD payroll department is working diligently to process retroactive pay for approximately 1,200 regular employees, the district stated further in a press release.

All but the teacher’s contract were approved by unanimous consent. Bill Holt abstained from voting on that contract, but the remaining members voted for it. Two board members, Sammy Crawford and Liz Downing, attended the meeting, and voted by phone. Crawford was calling in from England, and Downing was calling from Homer. East Peninsula representative Lynn Hohl did not attend.

KPEA President Dawn LaDruce and Margie Warner, President of Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association (KPESA), each spoke briefly, urging the board to support their members’ contracts. LaDruce said 50 percent of her membership had voted, and the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of it. She added that she would like to see the negotiations process done differently next time.

Warner called the contract process “a long-fought battle,” but said that in the end almost 40 percent of the support membership had voted, and that their vote went overwhelmingly in favor of the contract.  The process was a “learning experience,” she said, one that she would like to see done differently next time.

“I just think it’s interesting,” Druce said in a telephone conversation with this reporter prior to the final vote. “It took us 14 months to settle on a 2-2-2. The support employees got two percent, and the district administration, the superintendents gave themselves and the directors a three and a half-percent (annual) increase.”

School Budget Presentation in Seward April 2013. Heidi Zemach photo.

School Budget Presentation in Seward April 2013. Heidi Zemach photo.

The district officer’s own proposed salary increase had caused quite some conversation among the membership. Particularly as some had felt that their salaries, and potential increases were unfairly blamed by the district leadership when explaining during budget meetings why they might need to make cuts, or dip into their fund reserve balance again.

The School District’s preliminary $148 million budget for 2013-2014, which was estimated based on a 1-percent teacher-salary increase, had a $3.7 million deficit. The district had yet to learn how the state and borough would fund education.  Employee benefits (including Workman’s Comp) accounted for 36 percent of general fund expenditures, with salaries and benefits totaling 81 percent of the budget, said Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones in a budget meeting held recently in Seward. That only leaves utilities, in-kind services, and discretionary accounts for the district to trim from, he said. Jones then explained how each of those too had already been cut to the bare bones.

***The following clarification was sent to SCN by The KPBSD:

The article contains incorrect salary information. KPEA and KPESA
both received 2% and step and lane movement which results in more than
the administrator percentage increase. The National Labor Relations Board considers steps and
lanes a raise. This is the accurate range:

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Salary and Benefit increase range approved by the KPBSD School Board
on April 9, 2013:

* Kenai Peninsula Education Association (KPEA) certified
range: 3.78% to 6.82% (salary)

* Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association (KPESA)
classified range: 5.44% to 14.34% (hourly)

* District Office Administrator Salary Schedule range: 3.13%
to 3.57% (salary)

* Kenai Peninsula Administrators’ Association (KPAA) range:
2.51% to 3.83% (salary)

* Exempt Employees range: 3.5% to 5.1% (hourly)

Note: The percentages listed above reflect the range of pay increases
for each employee group and, with the exception of District Office
Administrators, are based upon a 2% increase to each salary table in
addition to step increases for those who are eligible (those who are
not eligible for a step increase will receive a 2% increase in pay).
The pay increase for District Office Administrators is fully reflected
in the step increase scheduled each year (there is no additional
percentage awarded).

Please update your stories with this accurate and correct information.

Thank you,

Pegge Erkeneff
Communications Specialist
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

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