Strike avoided, classes resume for Kenai Peninsula public schools
Classes will take place Tuesday for all 42 schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, but will start two hours later than usual.
The Kenai Peninsula Education Association (KPEA) and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association (KPESA) reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract early Tuesday morning.
The agreement averted a strike that had been scheduled to start later in the morning.
The contract ends 18 months of negotiations and is a three-year deal from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.
"After months of hard work and strained emotions the bargaining teams came together tonight in the spirit of compromise," KPBSD Superintendent John O'Brien said in a statement. "Together we can all now focus on our core mission: educating the children of the Kenai. I look forward to working together with our staff and this community to advocate for public education on behalf of our students. Together we will continue to innovate and lead our state with the high quality of education we provide to our students."
"Working together, we were able to find a creative solution with the District that will keep kids in class and educators working," Anne McCabe, President of KPESA, said in a press release. "This process has drawn on for nearly two years and I'm pleased that we've reached a tentative agreement that values our educators and the students they work with every day."
The unions called for a strike last Friday after they failed to reach a deal with the district over health care, the final hurdle to get a new contract approved.
"I am extremely pleased that both negotiating teams have reached an agreement and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District can get back to doing what it does best: educating our students through the many quality programs and activities it has put in place and preparing them for their future," Penny Vadla, KPBSD Board of Education President, said in a statement. "We, as a board, are looking forward to a bright future."
"This tentative agreement represents a big step forward for everyone working to improve the lives of Kenai Peninsula students," said David Brighton, KPEA President. "I'm proud of the work we've done, and I'm pleased that we are able to find a compromise with the District."
The district announced Monday it would cancel classes Tuesday. In a post announcing the agreement, the district said students absent on Tuesday will be excused but parents will need to call their schools.
Sports and after-school activities will take place on a normal Tuesday schedule.
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