By IVY HERRON
Increasing health and vision insurance premiums for teachers and a separate plan for other staff members are beginning to outdistance new state funding for the Clay Community School Corporation.
When the Indiana State Teachers' Association (ISTA) Trust was approved this past October several members on the School Board felt it was a vote for the least financially irresponsible plan: A bandage for now, not a solution for the future.
Only two insurance providers participated in the open bidding process last summer due to the type of health and vision insurance coverage being sought. (Described as a "Cadillac" among insurance policies during past board discussions, it is difficult to find a provider willing to quote or bid this type of plan.)
Anthem, the other bidder, will continue to provide the dental insurance for all employees.
The ISTA Trust will administer the two insurance plans without changing the prior design of the plans or type of coverage for two years, effective Nov. 1, 2005 until Oct. 31, 2006, but it can not guarantee control of future premium increases for the two plans. The board can re-negotiate the terms or find a new provider after the two years.
Although changing the one insurance provider gave the corporation a 14.5 percent budget savings this year, the corporation's position is the amount would have been greater if the insurance companies participating in the bidding process could have quoted premiums for one plan for all employees.
If no changes are made, insurance premiums for the 2006-07 school year are projected to increase at least another 20 percent and are expected to continue in-creasing each year afterward. The board's concern is eventually all the state funding will be spent on insurance premium in-creases with nothing left over for other expenses or raises of any kind.
With more than 90 percent of the General Fund spent on wages and insurance premiums, both sides understand the budget crisis and are seeking solutions.
The School Board and the administration would like to consolidate the two plans and have all members pay deductibles and co-pays for all medical services whe-ther in or out of network. If the single plan was created for all employees, the projected insurance premium increase could be cut in half.
Acknowledging the reality of the problem while continuing to work with the insurance committee to find a solution, the Clay Community Classroom Teachers' Association feels they have stepped up to the plate so many times during the collective bargaining pro-cess they shouldn't have to give up their solution because of fiscal decisions by board members in the past.
Another problem they point out is non-teaching personnel will receive a better health and vision insurance plan for less money while the teachers will pay more and get less for their insurance premiums.
In an effort to increase public understanding of the matter, the board has requested a presentation of the facts as an agenda item during the next Clay Community School Board of Trustees meeting Thursday in the North Clay Media Center at 7:30 p.m.
Information provided by the Clay Community School Corporation and the Clay Classroom Teachers' Association.