Public school teachers on the Kenai Peninsula have been working without a contract for more than 400 days.
But it is going to be a few days more, it appears, although a strike that was authorized in May is looming on Sept. 16. That action could shut down the schools.
Monday’s meeting, held in Homer, was supposed to be when the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education was going to come to an agreement with the unions.
Instead, the meeting was so tense, with such vitriol coming from a small-but-radicalized segment of Homer toward the School Board, that board members were clearly rattled, and emphasized in their closing statements the need for civility.
Most people in Homer do not agree with the group that showed up and told them “you should be ashamed of yourself.”
But it’s the same Recall Dunleavy people who attend various meetings and raise a ruckus in Homer on a regular basis.
“I didn’t laugh at your comments,” said board member Debra Hall after members of the audience started jeering her comments.
Meanwhile, the school district and union negotiations were cancelled on Wednesday until further notice because of alleged phoned-in threats against the National Education Association office in Anchorage.
“This afternoon three calls were made threatening the National Education Association’s office in Anchorage. The phone number was a Kenai Peninsula phone number. The evening’s bargaining session scheduled at Soldotna High School for September 11th was canceled out of concern for safety and protocol. This is still an ongoing investigation so we cannot discuss details,” the district posted on its Facebook page.
The phone number was traced back to Seward; Anchorage police and Alaska State Troopers are said to be investigating.
The teachers union activists are the same “Red for Ed” contingency that protested the full Permanent Fund dividend during state budget talks, and are now asking for $3,000 for each of their members for their healthcare coverage.
The the proposed contract would cost the district $3.2 million, which would deplete the general fund balance, yet still require more funds to be obtained from an unknown source.
Kenai educators may not yet realize that they do not have to be part of the unions. All they need to do is to send a letter to Human Resources, telling them to stop taking out dues from the employee’s paychecks. This right was established in the Supreme Court Janus decision.