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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo School District Hike Health Insurance Contribution

Every employee of the Peshtigo School District will see changes to the employee contribution toward health insurance costs in the next fiscal year, as well as major changes to the available deductibles. The changes were enacted at the Wednesday, June 12 meeting of the School Board.

District Administrator Kim Eparvier introduced the topic by reminding the Board that insurance is the second highest cost category for the district, second only to salaries. He said that the district has been lagging behind most area districts in starting salary levels for first year teachers, and the teachers themselves have been interested in the district putting more dollars into salaries.

With the changes coming because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), the district finds itself in a delicate balancing act because if it keeps the current health insurance plan, it probably would have been classified as a “Cadillac Plan,” and thus subject to a special assessment from the government.

The current health plan of the district has calendar deduction of $100/$200 for providers who are “in network,” and $200/$400 for providers who are “out of network.” Most employees also currently contribute 10 percent of their premium costs.

Eparvier commented there are only so many dollars in the district pot, so the district must set some priorities. He said the district cannot keep low deductibles for employees and still put more money into salaries.

When the district put its health insurance out for bids, only WCA-GHT, the current provider, responded with a proposal. This may be a reflection of the fact that in recent years the district employees have submitted some pretty high claims.

The Anthem quote included two deductible options, either a $500/$1,000 option, or at $1,000/$2,000 option, both for ‘in network’ providers. For ‘out of network’ providers, these deductibles are doubled.

Eparvier added the Board Committee assigned to this topic did not have a recommendation, but wanted to leave the final decision on levels up to the entire Board.

After much discussion, a motion to select the plan that set the deductibles at $1000/$2000 and have the employees contribute 10 percent of the premiums, failed after a Board vote of three in favor, four against, with one abstention and one Board member absent.

A second motion was put forward to set the deductibles at $1000/$2000 and have the employees contribute 12 percent of the premiums passed by a Board vote of four in favor and three against, with one abstention and one Board member absent.

During the discussion, it was noted that employees in the districts of Marinette, Oconto, Oconto Falls and Wausaukee all contribute at least 12 percent of their premiums, with some as high as 20 percent.

Because of these changes, the bottom-line impact for employees of the district is that the teachers will actually see more money in their yearly paychecks, ranging from $116 to $263 more per year. Administration staff will see their take-home pay actually go down, from $110 to $250 less per year. Support staff insured through the district will see the greatest impact, with their annual take-home decrease from $500 to $1200 per year.

In other matters, the Board approved the hiring of Ashley Coon as the Middle/High School Family and Consumer Science Teacher for next school year. Also approved was the resignation of Music/Chorus Teacher Brent Bergstrom.

In other related staffing issues, the Board affirmed that the district will maintain two full-time Middle/High School secretarial positions with full benefits.

Also, the two part-time school nurse positions will see their weekly hours rise from 20 hours per week to 25 hours a week. The Building Principals will determine the exact hours the nurses will be on duty. The p/t nurse in the Elementary Building was posted, with five applicants responding. Interviews are taking place.

The Board approved reducing the Special Education secretarial position to 29 hours per week. The position used to be a split position with duties as an Elementary office secretary. With the district now having a full-time Special Education Director to do some of this work, and in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) provisions, the district decided to move this position to part-time.

Board approval was given to renew the district’s membership in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association. Approval was also given to add to the contract with CESA 8 to provide more technology coaching for district teachers. The addendum will broaden and enhance what can be done to instruct and train teachers and staff in using technology for education.

The Board passed the First Reading of new/revised policies for Profession Staff and for Support Staff. A Second and Final Reading of policies regarding programming were also approved. It was noted that the policy on Home-school participation in District Activities is still being reviewed.

The Finance/ Personnel/Negotiations Committee announced it will meet with the teachers and with the support staff to begin negotiations on wages.

Under the President’s Report, Board member Kelly Jones announced the District has received a $500 grant from the M&M Foundation for the 2014 Post-Prom activities.

Eparvier announced the PTSO in the Elementary School has given a $15,000 donation to purchase technology in the elementary classrooms.

In Closed Session, which was called to review a complaint regarding Equestrian Team Coaches, the Board re-entered Open Session to pass a motion that upheld the Administration’s decision to deny awarding a ‘letter’ to a participant in that sport.


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