• Fri. Aug 5th, 2022

District support staff to get pay raises

ByJulie J. Helfer

Aug 2, 2022

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District support staff are receiving raises this school year.

The Board of Education on Monday approved the pay rises in an agreement with the union that represents those employees. The board also approved the creation of a program to increase the number of special education employees in the district.

These initiatives were outlined in two separate memoranda of understanding approved by board members at their regular Monday evening meeting in Soldotna.

The first memorandum outlines salary increases for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years for district support staff. For the next school year, salaries for support staff will start at $16.73, compared to the $15.04 agreed to in the collective agreement last year. For the 2023-2024 school year, these salaries will start at $17.06, compared to the $15.34 described in the collective agreement.

In proposing the salary increases, the memorandum cites an “increase in post-pandemic inflation” and “the importance of retaining and recruiting” for vacancies over the next school years.

Board member Jason Tauriainen, who said he was a former support staff member, called the pay rise “a long time coming”.

“The ability to make that happen here is both unusual and unprecedented and something the support staff needed,” Tauriainen said. “I am grateful to be on this board and to have the opportunity to vote positively for this.”

Board member Matt Morse, who represents Kenai, said he would not support the memorandum increasing the pay of district support staff because he does not believe it will lead to “overall long-term solutions.” “.

“I support helping our group of lowest paid employees during this time of historically high inflation,” Morse said. “However, I don’t think the way we’re going about this will lead to comprehensive long-term solutions.”

Approval of this memorandum came about two months after members of the Kenai Peninsula Educational Support Association, which represents district support staff, and the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, which represents district certified staff, gathered in front of the George A. Navarre administration building. demand an increase in the remuneration of support staff.

The second memorandum approved Monday by members of the Board of Education outlines a new “Grow-Your-Own” program through which the district will financially support classified employees who wish to participate in a special education program. This memorandum cites the district’s desire to “develop additional avenues to develop and recruit special education employees.”

KPESA President Susanna Litwiniak spoke at Monday’s board meeting in support of the two memoranda, which she called excellent examples of “what can happen when we work together towards a common objective”.

“I think the two are going to go a long way in advancing what we’re all working towards — making sure students get what they need,” Litwiniak said.

Monday’s full school board meeting can be viewed on the district’s media website at media.kpbsd.k12.ak.us.

Contact reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at [email protected]