County Schools Face Insurance Hike
The Bartow school board also created a new policy to keep extracurricular indoors until 6:30 p.m. because of harsh heat and humidity conditions.
Bartow County Schools got a bit of a shock from the state Monday. Chief Financial Officer Todd Hooper announced that the system will be looking at a significant increase in insurance premiums for classified and certified staff that could potentially affect their school budget for fiscal year 2012.
Hooper said one of the first things his team does in the beginning of every fiscal year is compute the July and August payrolls for the system.
"Those payrolls are created based on insurance rates we're provided," Hooper said. “The state department of community health came back to us about the third week of July to say that those health insurance premiums on certified staff would increase.”
Premiums for certified staff could increase from 18 percent to 24 percent of the base pay.
“As late as that process was and as much as we felt that should have been determined early or late in the spring so that we could anticipate it, we had to go back through the process of recomputing what the health insurance premiums would have been for those July and August payrolls,” Hooper said.
He added the funding, or additional 6 percent the system will incur, is currently not funded by the state.
“That's quite a bit undertaking,” said Hooper. “It will be cash flow for us later. But what I want impress upon the board to understand is this 6 percent due to the funding will be born by the local taxpayers in a temporary interim.”
Hooper said state officials also said as of October the system will be looking at an increase in premiums for classified employees of $50 a month.
“That's an additional $450 per classified employee,” said Hooper. “That's a pretty staggering amount for us to have to pay considering we didn't budget for that.”
Hooper said that he couldn't believe the state would wait until this late in the year to increase the premiums and believes it should have been finalized in the spring.
"A little over a year ago we were paying about $163 a month for each classified employee's health insurance, and that's not counting what they paid," Hooper said. "It's now $296 a month, beginning in October. That's unfortunate because as we try to budget in a tough and tight economy, I can not understand how they project, foresee these types of shortfalls."
Superintendent John Harper also announced that outdoor practices would be postponed to 6:30 p.m. each day, effective last Friday, due to extreme heat and humidity in the last month.
Harper added band directors and coaches could choose to start practices indoors and move outdoors at that time.
“I know it's a huge inconvenience to our parents....I felt as a regard to the weather as I had seen it that it was in our children's best interest that we protect them,” said Harper.
Harper added two Georgia students have died this year because of high temperatures.
The new policy will be effective until future notice, said Harper.
Also at this meeting:
- The board hired a new director of Technology. Mark Bagnell, previous lead technical specialist, was promoted to the position. Harper said that the former director, Eric Pearson, left the system for another job opportunity.
- The board eyed approving contracts for personnel to handle student needs. The board plans to approve the contacts with a medical services provider to support medically fragile students with disabilities, a private agency to provide speech therapy services and a sign-language interpreter for a deaf student.