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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
After months of belabored contract negotiations between the Ketchikan School District and the Ketchikan Education Association, it appears as though an agreement is in the works.
School Board President Matt Eisenhower told the Daily News that the district and union met on Wednesday and that the outcome was positive overall. He said he hopes a tentative agreement could be reached, possibly as soon as Monday.
“We had a very successful day talking with the KEA reps about health insurance and other language in the contract,” Eisenhower said. “And both side believe, in principle, we’ve reached a deal.”
He said that the two sides would be meeting Monday, and that more information would be available on the details of discussions and any potential agreement at that time.
“Today was a very productive day, a lot of discussion and compromise on both sides and I’m just really thankful for KEA’s negotiating team’s willingness to persevere to this point,” Eisenhower said.
KEA Vice President Sarah Campbell said she was also hopeful following Wednesday’s meeting.
“We’re very close to an agreement. We were able to talk about the dysfunctional mismanagement of the insurance,” Campbell said.
The last time the two teams met was on Oct. 31, when progress was made in terms of salary, but issues regarding insurance still remained. Campbell highlighted that Wednesday’s meeting was able to bring the two sides much closer together on insurance policy.
Campbell also pointed out that Eisenhower had joined School District Director of Human Resources Rick Rafter as part of the district’s negotiating team. She said that his presence on Wednesday helped facilitate communication.
“Basically this happened because there was communication between the (School) Board and KEA,” Campbell said. “… Right now they're just kind of ideas at this point, so Monday we’ll be able to finalize, but we really appreciate Matt Eisenhower’s ideas and his approach.”
Both sides said that, after Wednesday, they had renewed hope for an agreement going into Monday’s meeting.
“A lot of movement has happened since we last met (in October),” Campbell said.