Teacher-contract negotiations are headed in a positive direction, according to Ketchikan Education Association and Ketchikan School Board representatives.

Negotiating teams from the two sides met on Wednesday to discuss health insurance – one of the final sticking points. In separate emails, School Board President Matt Eisenhower and KEA Vice President Sarah Campbell both expressed optimism that an agreement can be reached.

Campbell writes that KEA provided some options on health insurance compromises on Nov. 2nd. On Wednesday, the two sides met and talked about those options.

Campbell writes that the district team, which now includes Eisenhower, will take the weekend to think about the issue, and the two sides will meet again on Monday, Nov. 12.

Eisenhower writes that the approximately four and a half-hour meeting on Wednesday was “successful and productive.” He says both sides believe in principle that a deal has been reached. Eisenhower says he hopes to have a tentative agreement after Monday’s negotiating session.

The other main sticking point in negotiations has been salary. The two teams made headway on that during an Oct. 31st negotiating session. Campbell notes that there are still some other contract-language items that need to be discussed, including class size, safety training, and prep time for elementary teachers.

Campbell praised the board for adding Eisenhower to the negotiating team. She says that has been instrumental in opening up communications between the school district and teachers’ union.

Ketchikan School District teachers have been working on an expired contract since spring of 2017. Negotiations have been ongoing for about two years. Both sides declared impasse this summer. In case an agreement can’t be reached, mediation is scheduled for later this month, with arbitration in late December.