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Leaders will pay more for schools’ health insurance

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The five Clark-Pleasant school board members can now enroll in the same health insurance program offered to teachers and other staff, though board members would pay higher monthly pre­miums.

This is the first time a local school district has offered insurance to its elected members. Superintendent Patrick Spray said the school board members should be offered health insurance because he considers them employees of the school district. School board members are elected, meet for 12 public meetings each year as well as for multiple executive sessions and training, and are paid $2,000 annually.

Spray and board member John Venter said offering insurance to school board members shouldn’t add any costs for taxpayers.

Teachers and employees who sign up for health insurance can have plans costing $487 per month for single coverage and $1,100 for family coverage.

About the change

The Clark-Pleasant school board has voted allow school board members to sign up for the school district’s health insurance. Here are the details:

What: Board members can enroll in the same group insurance program as teachers and other staff

Differences: The school district won’t pay anything to cover the monthly premium payments for board members. Those amounts can reach as high as $487 for single coverage and $1,100 for family coverage. Board members who enroll in the program have to pay that amount themselves

Group insurance: The money for claims is paid for with the money contributed by members. Clark-Pleasant also has a third-party insurance policy in case an individual’s claims exceed about $50,000.

Approved: The insurance benefits were approved 4-1. Board member Butch Zike voted against the recommendation because he was concerned about board members receiving the same benefits as teachers

For employees enrolled in the program, the school district pays 89 percent of those monthly costs for single coverage and 83 percent for family coverage, Spray said.

The cost for teachers or employees would be between $53 and $178 each month.

Board members who take the school’s health insurance would pay the full cost of the monthly premiums. Those monthly payments pay the health bills from anyone enrolled in the plan.

Spray said school board members will have more of an interest in the coverage employees receive and the rates they’re paying if they, too, are enrolled in the plan. Recommendations on changes to the plan, such as what expenses are paid for and any limits of coverage, are made by a committee that includes teachers, administrators and other employees, but no board members.

While the school board would have to approve any changes recommended by the committee, Spray said, he isn’t worried about members who sign up for health insurance having a conflict of interest.

The school board voted 4-1 this week to allow board members to enroll in the group insurance program. Board member Butch Zike voted against the recommendation, saying he was concerned offering insurance to board members eventually could lead to taxpayer funds being used to help pay the board members’ premiums.

“I’m just opposed to the board members having the same benefits as our teachers. I don’t think we deserve them. We meet 12 times a year,” Zike said.

Board members E. Curtis Harris, A. Beatrice Dunn, David Stephenson and Venter all voted in favor of opening enrollment to the board.

School officials don’t know yet whether any current board members will choose to participate in the plan, which would begin Jan. 1.

Clark-Pleasant has a group insurance program, meaning money paid by everyone enrolled in the program is used to pay the claims.

The school district also has secondary insurance coverage that kicks in when claims reach $50,000 for an individual. That coverage is provided by a third party in case an individual has tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, Spray said. That means there’s little chance of one person’s medical bills draining all of the group’s funds, he said.

“The potential for one individual to impact the entire plan is pretty minimal,” he said.

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