Tags: Geneva Lake West
|Norton (click for larger version)|
June 18, 2013 | 01:41 PMFONTANA — The Fontana school board will ask school faculty and staff to pick up some of the increased costs of health insurance in the 2013-14 school year.
During a special session, the board agreed to recommend teachers and staff pay 9 percent of the premium. The district will pay the remaining 91 percent.
The board will make a final vote on the recommendation on June 24.
Currently, employees pay 6 percent of the premium.
The total cost of health insurance will increase nearly 10 percent, or $35,000, for next year, and the board expects increases to continue annually for the foreseeable future.
The board agreed to split the total increase of health insurance costs.
Board Clerk Lisa Laing said the additional health insurance cost should be seen as a "shared burden."
"We're taking half of the increase, and employees are taking the other half," she said. "We'll both be paying more."
District Administrator Sara Norton said Fontana Elementary School is in the same situation as other districts.
"We are in the exact same boat that every other district is in," she said during a special board meeting June 13. "Other districts are changing these things, or they were paying a higher (health insurance premium) rate to begin with. I don't know how long it will take for people to acclimate to this kind of change."
Norton said the district would have to find that money somewhere.
"It's $35,000 that we're going to be paying the insurance company," she said. "There will definitely be cuts."
District employees pay the lowest percentage in the area, Norton said.
"But they're always paid well below the state average," she said. "I don't know the average of the surrounding schools' salaries." Laing said many employees are attracted to Fontana Elementary School because of their extensive benefit package.
"On principle, you guys started out asking the employees to take a share," she said. "Every time it's come up (premium increases) since then, we've talked about the trade-offs, of paying our employees more or maintaining a great benefit package."
Norton said even with the shared health care increase cost, the budget will be tight.
"If we continue to be thrifty, we can do it," she said. "Mary (Coss, school business manager) has done an amazing job on keeping an eye on things."
Board President Jennifer Keefe said the board needs to put money toward what it values.
"Right now, we're saying we value their health care the most," she said. "Maybe we should say that we're valuing their work (by increasing salaries)."
Keefe said increases costs for employees isn't an easy thing for the board.
"This isn't something we enjoy doing," she said. "But we (the district) can't afford to pay the total increase ourselves. We should shift away from the benefits being the reasons people stay here and instead make the salary the reason people stay here."