money

 

KODIAK — As the Kodiak Island Borough School District tries to balance a $3.5 million deficit, teachers are lending a hand.

On Monday, the borough school board approved a one-year rollover of the district’s contract with the Kodiak Borough Education Association (KBEA), which represents certified employees, including most teachers. The rollover slightly modifies existing rules for sick leave and includes no raises or benefit increases except those already contracted.

KBEA is the largest organized group in the Kodiak school district. Negotiations are continuing with three other groups, including the Kodiak Island Educational Support Association.

Schools superintendent Stewart McDonald said it’s not good that the district couldn’t offer teachers a raise, but the agreement helps balance the budget.

“It was a good outcome given our current circumstances,” he said. “I wouldn’t consider it a victory by any means, because our teachers work hard, and we’re always in favor of them being compensated with a competitive wage.”

Sami King, president of KBEA, said the deficit did factor into the group’s decision to accept a rollover.

“The uncertainty of the economy and the fact that we only agreed to a one-year contract also figured in our decision,” she wrote the Daily Mirror in an email.

Despite the flat funding, King said the teachers union did get some of what it wanted.

“Our current contract is better for teachers than what the district was proposing,” she wrote.

One downside to the new agreement is that it allows other Alaska school districts to take a lead over Kodiak in salaries and benefits, which could hurt hiring. Next year, the Anchorage School District will offer more in salaries and benefits.

“I don’t think that’s something that’s ever happened in our history,” McDonald said.

King said she doesn’t know if the difference will hurt hiring or not. She pointed out that since insurance costs and inflation are rising, giving no raises in 2013 is effectively a pay cut.

“Luckily, Kodiak is a desirable place to live and raise a family,” she wrote.

King added that while the union is willing to help the district balance its budget this year, it may not be willing to do so again.

“We will not expect to roll over the current contract when we enter negotiations next year,” she wrote.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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