This week, the All Boards Chairmen (ABC) committee met for the first time since the election with three new members. Electra Tortorella, of Sharon, was elected Chairman. Several representatives for the insurance broker (Kona HR) were present and discussed the contract negotiation for the healthcare insurance this year. An aging regional demographic, with higher claims, will lead to an estimated 20% increase. Business Manager Sam Herrick announced the hiring of a new Athletic Director. The preliminary budget for the central office is down. And several members discussed the cyber bullying that continues to haunt the region. Then they held an executive session to discuss the transportation contract. A busy business meeting.
Herrick engaged the insurance brokers in a detailed presentation of the current situation for healthcare insurance. He negotiates for seven boards of education and six towns, so the pool of people, while still small, is large enough to get some economies of scale. The brokers provide the knowledge to deal with the insurance companies.
In 2010, the loss ratio was 68%; the region only had $0.68 of claims for every dollar of premiums. Normally, the loss ratio should be 85% leaving some profit for the insurance company. This year, the loss ratio is 104%; Aetna is losing money. Over 70% of the claims came from people over 45 years old. Herrick said, “We are facing a correction here.”
In previous years, the region broke even on total insurance cost by shifting workers from Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) to High Deductible Healthcare Plan (HDHP) which costs less. PPO claims average $6500; HDHP claims average $4000. However, with over 95% of the region’s workers shifted, there is little left to gain. And the cost of the insurance keeps increasing.
The brokers estimated that the premium increase will be at least 20% with 3-4% coming from the Affordable Care Act restrictions. Most of the increase comes from the effect of a few sizable claims. Herrick said, “We need to educate the town side.”
Herrick also led a large search committee to find a new athletic director. He said, “On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, the high school Athletic Director Search Committee unanimously recommended to hire Anne MacNeil as the High School Athletic Director/Middle School Athletic Coordinator.” He told the committee that the new AD will coordinate, but not direct, middle school athletics. The local Principals will continue to evaluate the coaches with her help.
Herrick said that the search committee consisted of many active regional participants including Jeff Tripp, Dave Bayersdorfer, Jim Terrall, Candy Stiewing, Bruce Adams, Dave Grusauski, Francis Perotti, Pat McGuire, Lisa McAuliffe, Joan Yahn, Karen Dignacco, Ian Strever. They will continue as an athletic advisory committee.
Herrick also noted that they faced a series of tough decisions similar to last year’s layoff of teachers. Several sports had trouble fielding teams due to declining enrollment. Some sports may have to be dropped.
Herrick presented the preliminary budget for the Regional School Services Center (RSSC) commonly called the central office. The budget estimate was down -2.62%, or about $27,000. Salary increases were taken from existing contracts or collective bargaining agreements. With the resignation of Executive Secretary Lucille Paige, the staff has been reorganized to be more efficient with significant savings. Legal services have also decreased.
During the roundtable for committee comment, Dolores Perotti, from North Canaan, broached the subject of negative reports that have a detrimental effect on our community. She said, “If we don’t do something about this negativity, this cyber bullying … .” Several other committee members echoed the sentiments. In particular, Dominick Caiati, of Falls Village, wished that community members would attend board meetings where the subjects of concern can be put on the agenda and discussed. He noted that individual members of any board can do nothing; the board can only act as a whole.
The committee discussed taking videos of board meetings so the public can have an accurate record. Previously, a representative of RobinHoodRadioTV had guaranteed a video of all ABC committee meetings to be part of the minutes. However, neither Marshall Miles nor his assistants were present to record the meeting. Perhaps, he did not get the meeting notice. But then he is apparently the cyber bully being referenced.