Educators eye savings from health benefits

During a season overloaded with spending and giving, the school district is looking forward to talking about savings — health care savings, to be exact.

Paul Henrickson, the district’s business manager, told members of the Board of Education at a meeting Nov. 25 that health benefits’ savings are being analyzed and estimated to determine the impact of the district’s change in health care providers from CIGNA and Aetna earlier in the year.

He added that the district’s health care consultant, Rob Fitzpatrick, would be present for a preliminary discussion about next year’s health care budget at a meeting on Monday, Dec. 9.

“Rob and I had a very comprehensive meeting today,” Mr. Hendrickson said at a Board of Education meeting on Nov. 25. “We’re still determining changes in the retiree health plan, and some post-budget contract settlements, but there are some projections for next year’s benefits budget that are coming.”

Two months into the 2013-2014 school year, the district is operating about $67,864 under budget, according to an October financial report Mr. Hendrickson presented at the same meeting.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the financial report.

Teacher salaries provided the district $331,066, or 1.27%, in savings, while special education was $172,659 over budget.

In energy, fuel oil was a tad under budget, while electricity ran a bit over, for a net wash.

Mr. Hendrickson noted in his report that “virtually all the district’s fuel oil budget is under contract at an average price of $2.96 a gallon,” which means all nine schools are locked in for fuel costs as the cold winter months approach.

“This is 24 cents below the budgeted price of $3.20 a gallon, a savings of approximately $50,000 versus budget,” he wrote.

He said the district received the first half of its transportation bill in October and began to pay the $1.6-million account in November.

A majority of the transportation account is billed first in September and then in February.

Mr. Hendrickson added that the district would be receiving a pair of grants — one for technology, estimated at $94,000, and one for school security, estimated at $44,000 — in the next couple of months.

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