The Hays USD 489 board of education on Monday will discuss opting out of the Public Employer-Employee Relations Act, but the discussion is not related to the city and county deciding to do so.

The act establishes the right of public employees in Kansas to organize and negotiate with employers on terms and conditions of employment and grievances. While mandatory for the state, local governments can choose whether or not to participate.

In December, the Hays City Commission, followed a few days later by the Ellis County Commission, voted to opt out of PEERA. Each had been covered by PEERA since 1972.

The Hays BOE has opted in for at least 25 years, Superintendent John Thissen said. The decision to discuss opting out is not merely following the city and county’s moves, he said.

“Unfortunately, that’s how everybody’s going to view it but that’s not what happened,” he said.

Thissen said the board had decided to make the issue a discussion item for the new year several months ago after a contentious incident during negotiations over the district’s health insurance.

At its Aug. 28 meeting, the board had been set to vote on changing its employee health insurance provider from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas to Aetna. But less than two hours before that meeting, the Hays Service Employees International Union and National Education Association delivered a letter to the board threatening legal action if the switch was made.

“It irritated the board, and in that conversation, the board ended up saying we need to discuss whether or not we need to recognized them as a union,” Thissen said.

Opting out of PEERA would affect only the SEIU, the union for custodial and maintenance workers. Thissen said 19 of the district’s 28 custodial employees are dues-paying union members.

Also on the agenda for Monday’s meeting is further discussion on how to proceed with a bond issue and approval of $778,362 in improvements to the Hays High School HVAC system.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Teopfer Board Room of the Rockwell Administration Center.