School board debates health insurance changes; Curtice addresses school calendar | CraigDailyPress.com

School board debates health insurance changes; Curtice addresses school calendar

— At Thursday's Moffat County School District Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Brent Curtice addressed questions raised about the school calendar following two articles published in the Craig Daily Press, one on Oct. 16 and one on Wednesday.

The articles explained two alternative school calendars developed by a district calendar committee, and outlined pros and cons as presented by district administrators and a board member who participated in the committee, and parents who were concerned with the possible changes.

Curtice took issue with the articles, claiming they misled the community and saying that the district wasn't moving forward with changes to the calendar.

"There's no calendar on the docket, there's no calendar committee," Curtice said. "I'm sorry that this board, this community was misled."

Another hot topic addressed earlier in the day was health insurance. The board approved a motion to switch to a different type of health insurance plan known as a captive stop loss contract, which would provide a savings of $245,000 to the district over renewing its current stop loss plan.

Even with the savings, the switch still puts the districts' health insurance costs at nearly $700,000 more than last year, well over the original $217,000 increase the district anticipated at the end of last school year.

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However, the district is also opting for a change to the plan design in order to offset the cost increase, which MCSD Finance Director Tinneal Gerber expects will result in no increased cost to the district. The current year's expected annual cost is about $2.2 million.

Board member Darrell Camilletti expressed concerns about how the plan design changes would impact employees, as they would mean greater out-of-pocket expenses for individuals on the high-deductible plan if they ended up having significant health care costs.

"Employees are going to sustain additional costs after they've already had their salaries frozen," Camilletti said.

When attending staff were asked their feelings on the proposed changes, MCSD teacher Nicole O'Hara acknowledged she was worried about how the changes would affect new teachers' desire to stay in the district, and also how they would affect her own budget.

"We have a lot of great new people that we have hired in this building alone. My concern is keeping those people," she said. "When your health insurance is 10 percent or more of your gross income, it's difficult to live, to meet the needs of your monthly obligations."

Another non-district employee in the room added that premium increases are happening across the board, however.

Gerber specified that though some premiums would go up, district employees would have an option for a premium that remained flat if they switched to a different plan.

However, Gerber also recommended that the board consider changing a policy that states that the district will not pay for dependents except for a small grandfathered group of employees.

If the policy were to remain in place, employees on family plans would see premium increases of around $500 under all three plan options. If the board changes the policy, the district would pick up some of the additional cost for family coverage.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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