Insurance premiums increase for Centre

Staff writer

After a presentation Monday by Bruce Shultz, a representative of Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance, the Centre Board of Education renewed the current policy for the next year beginning May 1, with a premium of $338 per employee, an increase of 6.98 percent.

Shultz told the board to expect a double-digit increase next year. He said if a major illness or disease occurred among the insured, the premium could rise by as much as 15 percent, as allowed by state law.

Shultz spoke to the board about trends in health care costs as the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is set to be fully implemented in 2014.

He said because the district has less than 50 full-time employees, it does not come under the government mandate to provide health insurance. However, Centre does provide single coverage for each employee, and employees can purchase additional coverage for children and/or spouses.

Shultz said Centre’s premiums have been comparatively low for six or seven years because the district has many young employees and has a low level of claims.

He said Centre may maintain its AffordaBlue health plan with no further requirements for items covered as long as it does not make changes to the plan. It will be “grandfathered” in and will not be required to cover additional items as mandated by the federal government under Obamacare. Shultz said that since President Barack Obama signed the act in 2010, four pages of benefits required to be paid by insurance companies at 100 percent have been forthcoming and more will be added.

“We are in for some extremely inflationary times,” he said.

Centre currently has a “stand-alone” policy. Shultz encouraged board members to consider joining a group plan in which premiums are pooled and reserves are built up to keep premiums lower for its members. Entrance would be expensive, he said, but premiums would decrease after three or five years.

In other business:

  • The board approved allowing several agriculture courses to count as natural science courses, as approved by the Kansas Board of Regents. Those courses include plant science, horticulture, soil science, plant and soil science, and animal science.
  • The board approved participation in the Parents as Teachers program for 2014 at a projected fee of $3,264.
  • An updated interlocal agreement drawn up by the five school districts in Marion County Special Education Cooperative was approved.
  • The board accepted the resignation of Sharon Matz as route bus driver.
  • Jay O’Brien was hired as a vocational-ag teacher for the 2013-14 school year.
  • The board approved purchase of an Apple computer for Superintendent Jerri Kemble at a cost of $2,744.

The board spent 70 minutes in executive session with Kemble to discuss non-elected personnel. They later approved a resolution stating their intent to non-renew the contract with teacher Kara Luce. They spent 20 minutes in another executive session to discuss negotiations with teachers.

The board directed clerk Tracy Alt to follow guidelines regarding the posting of draft minutes online or on paper. The Kansas Association of School Boards “highly recommended” that minutes be approved by the board before posting. Summaries of board meetings will continue to be posted on the school’s website.

Kemble reported that Katherine Sprott of Kansas State University will be visiting Centre once a month to work with staff and students to make Centre a model rural school for K-State. Sprott works as an education professional in a five-state area.

 

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