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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Board tackles class size

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Class size was the topic of choice for many citizens at the Thursday night Clay County School Board monthly meeting.

"I am not here to question the Clay Community School Corporation," Clay City resident Rob Horton said to the board. "I am here to bring attention to a problem and offer proposals that might be used to solve it."

The problem, a kindergarten class at Clay City Elementary has 29 students in it, with only one teacher.

"It is extreme," Rob said. "I can't think of any one job that would have one person in charge of so many people without any help."

Rob proposed hiring a full-time aid to be in the classroom or using excess classrooms that are not currently in use for transitional classes, that theme continued.

"I come here tonight as a parent," Shakamak first-grade teacher Reesa Horton said. "I don't care how much it cost to provide an education for our children, it is something that needs to be done."

Reesa went on to talk about how smaller classes allow teachers to help students to succeed and it allows children to receive a better education.

"The ideal class size is 13-17 students, especially in the younger grade levels," Reesa said. "Research shows that students in smaller classes are more likely to graduate on time and not as likely to drop out."

Patrons continued to give suggestions to board members.

"I am a parent of a kindergartener that is in a class of 29 students," Clay City resident Shelly Hiatt said. "I would encourage the board to sit in the classes and get an idea of the level of work that goes into the management of so many students especially if they are 5 or 6-years-old."

Throughout the speeches, optimism was still at the forefront.

"I ask the board to be proactive and not reactive," Hiatt said.

The Clay City Elementary PTO was represented in speaker Shelly Ream.

"The PTO ask that a cap be put on class size, to allow students to not fall through the cracks," Ream said. "The current overcrowding in the classrooms is not a positive environment for learning and that needs to be changed."

Suggestions made by the PTO included:

* Kindergarten-first-grade -- 20 students

* Second-third-grade -- 24 students

* Fourth-sixth-grade -- 26 students

Yet again, the optimism flowed with Ream continuing the "proactive not reactive"

"Wouldn't it be great to be first to place a cap on the number of students in a classroom, and not be a follower," Ream said. "We could be leading the way and setting the standard."

The board followed with the same enthusiasm and positive outlook.

"I appreciate all the comments, and the suggestions made by everyone," board member Ted Jackson said.

Jackson asked Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Kathy Knust to speak about students who were enrolled in all day kindergarten last year and the results from their testing.

"Though I do not have a report prepared I do know that the kindergarten students who were enrolled last year did amazing on test scores," Knust said. "The larger classes didn't seem to affect the students because we utilized the teacher aides."

Knust also remarked on the surrounding counties and their lack of full-day kindergarten.

"We are fortunate to have full-day kindergarten, some counties in the area still don't because of the funding that is involved." Knust said. "We can fund it, unfortunately the classes are larger."

Board members continued to be positive and welcomed comments from parents, especially when positive proposals were given as well.

"I encourage parents to come to the school board meeting and talk to us," Board Vice President Dottie King "Clay County Schools should be leading the other area schools, not following them."

King was honest though in her explanation.

"We are at a point where we don't have the funding necessary in our general fund, and I don't want it to sound like we are making excuses, we are not, things are very tight right now," she said.

Assistant Secretary Tina Heffner agreed.

"I believe parents should be involved in the meetings and continue to voice their concerns," Heffner said. "Before I was on the board, I didn't come to many meetings and I didn't understand how things worked, now I am informed and involved, I think more parents should be too."

As a parent, board member Terry Barr said she understood the parents' concerns.

"I encourage discussion on this topic, and something should be done, especially the possibility of going into the classrooms for one day." Barr said. "But with the restraints on the general fund, we are trapped."

Board President Brian Atkinson also shared with these sentiments.

"I can identify with other parents. My child is one of 29 other students in one classroom." Atkinson said. "It is frustrating to see classrooms that are not being used and as a board we are looking into ways to make this better, but there is only so much we can do with the constraints in the budget."

Like all the other board members Atkinson also voiced his pleasure with parents involvement.

"Please stay, be involved, and ask questions," he said.

A special session is scheduled for Sept. 15, at 7 p.m., at North Clay Middle School in the Media Center.

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Are we trapped? Why are we trapped? Could it be because we are trying to operate an outmoded education system that wastes money? Are we trying to operate as many small elementary schools as it took before widespread use of the computer in the classroom instead of larger elementary schools with more classrooms and smaller class sizes to meet the demands of 21st century education at a cost that we can afford?

The administration's explanation that our last year's kindergarteners made significant improvement or what is happening in other counties is "smoke and mirrors" that do nothing but try to blind the public to the problem. Last year, we had uncertified employees teaching at Clay City. This year, Clay City doesn't have enough teachers, although they have three empty classrooms. That the kindergarteners last year improved significantly is not relevant and even misleading. After all, if a student improved by 10% in a class of thirty, how does that tell you how much improvement that student would have made if the teacher had twice the amount of time to spend teaching that student, one on one, in a class of fifteen?

Frankly, I don't think that some long time members of the board will be quite so happy with the parents involvement if the parents read the minutes of past school board meetings and start questioning as to why the board members voted in such a manner as to lead us to this point. I don't think that they will be pleased at all if parents ask why, if the school board is for change, did they vote for a building project that does nothing to drive down class size, cut costs so we can afford to hire teachers, but maintains the status quo that was established in the 1950's and 1960's when our elementary schools were built.

Oh, I'm sorry, this was a school board meeting in Clay County and the parents were from Clay City. From past experience with Clay Community Schools Corporation, that's the end of the issue. The board heard, the administration explained it away, and nothing will be done.

-- Posted by FlyinLion on Thu, Sep 11, 2008, at 11:32 PM

PLease tackle a new subject and back off. Go to meetings and state your mind.

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 7:33 AM

Class size is a long discussed topic in this corporation as I remember it well when my kids attended Jackson Township. The problem has gotten worse due to discontinued government funding for lower grades to allow for better student/teacher ratio. More and more over past years it seems that more and more of the responsibility financially has been shifted to local government to fund education. [Now with property tax caps I expect it will get even worse.] We have also lost almost 250 students over past several years according to superintendent so that reduces our funding as well. The biggest factor with our funds however still remains to be our unusually high staffing costs compared to other corporations of like size. This is what I believe board member, Dottie King, was referring to with her remark. Financial officer, Mike Fowler expanded on part of the issue with his health care report during another portion of the meeting.

Due to the wording in the teacher's union contract, the corporation is bound to provide health insurance with no deductible to the teaching staff even though IT COSTS MORE TO THE TEACHER! If I understood him correctly, a non teaching staff member gets $X with which to pay his deductible portion. After deductible is met and his "allowance" is spent, there is nothing more out of pocket. The deductible is that same $X amount or awfully close to it. The teacher plan however costs more to the corporation AND costs $2X to $3X to the teacher for premium in order to have a zero deductible. Just doesn't make sense but is the way the union insisted that the contract be written. Mr Fowler stated that not only would it save teachers money to be on the non teaching plan but it would save the corporation [get ready for this] OVER $300,000 each year!! Right there you've got maybe 4 more teachers!

Dottie King was correct in inviting parents to get involved as the class size is only a symptom of a lot larger financial issue from errors made several boards ago.

Though I feel that tax payer presence is a must to keep board members and administrators "on their toes" to constantly "tweak" things to keep improving to keep up with changes in education, in this case the board is held captive and has gone about as far as they can until the teacher's union either accepts a different wording of their contract, or the state repeals the law that prohibits the termination of a teacher's contract at the end of its term date and before another is agreed upon so that the corporation can take the step of updating the health care program more efficiently.

ALL parents should be up in arms about this health care issue and should be writing to state legislators about this law so pressure can be put on union to accept the wording one way or another. Either when they come to the table next time, or when law is repealed, in essence terminating all of their employment and then rehiring them under a new and improved contract. As Mr Southworth stated, we are trying to operate under an outdated system but to be fair to the board, in this case all we can do is put band aids on the problem by "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and will not be able to truly cure the disease until the root of the problem is solved and our total staffing costs can be lowered by overhauling the health care benefit system for ALL of the employees.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 8:11 AM

So according to you Ms. Moore it all goes back to being the teachers fault!

-- Posted by Partrosie on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 11:33 AM

"plan but it would save the corporation [get ready for this] OVER $300,000 each year!! Right there you've got maybe 4 more teachers!"

How exactly does $300,000 add up to 4 teaching jobs???? Starting teachers make less than $30,000 a year so your math is way off! Any way, if they had the extra $300000 a year, they would probably find another use other than adding to our teaching staff to use up the funding.

-- Posted by IMHO on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 12:06 PM


If a teacher takes home $30-45K it can cost the school corporation as much as $60K with benefits [health ins, retirement, social security etc]added in. To be more precise I might have said 4 more classes as class set up has its costs as well such as furniture etc. Admittedly it was just a ball park figure but I was guesstimating that an additional class could cost as much as $75K.


You are making a generalization. There is no putting fault, however I do believe that if the teacher's paycheck stubs more accurately described the actual cost of the teacher to the corporation [those costs paid by the corporation as well as those deductibles taken out of gross pay] and a few of the old guard union reps would really look at the health care plan being utilized by the other staff in the corporation, that they would recognize the savings as well. Some in fact have already asked to be switched over but that cannot happen unless the union agrees to it according to what Mr Fowler described at the meeting last night. In this case I think it may be that a certain percentage of the teachers are representing all of them and are stuck on the semantics of having no deductible plan and the rest of the teachers are not investing the time to really understand all the details. In the past those representing the teacher's best interests have done well for them, but like all other professions, some do a better job than others. I think when more teachers realize this, it will eventually change. To make this happen faster, parents might strike up a conversation with a teacher and ask if they know the details and ask what they've been told. We just need enough teachers to investigate the issue themselves...It's same o same o...Most parents don't attend school board meetings and think everything is hunky dory but that is not always so. All organizations need tweaking and if we are investing for the education of the children and the future of this county, don't you want to know how and what decisions are being made in your name? Most of the time there is no problem but it is our responsibility to question when we see something that doesn't seem quite right. Let's hope enough teachers start to question the inequity of the health care program so it will change to be better for them next time as well as cheaper for us as taxpayers.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 4:16 PM

Does class size matter??? I believe in the elementary it certainly does, but in high school?? college?? If mature students come ready to learn, then class size may be irrelevant . . . disemenation of information that occurs at the higher grade levels could be to a class of 100 in the auditorium. .. the real key is to have students ready to accept that information . . . what does that take . . . oh yeah, a complete paradigm shift in student behavior and priorities !! So if you really want to address the problems in CCS then one has to look at parenting, educational priorities and the teaching of respect of authority.

-- Posted by devil's advocate on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 6:19 PM

Ms. Moore I know what is going on. Again according to your analysis because the "old guard" is trying to keep the teachers from getting the shaft, it is their fault that the corporation is low on money and has large classes. If they would have been more fiscally responsible before now we wouldn't be in this mess!

-- Posted by Partrosie on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 8:19 PM


You might want to reread my response as I don't believe you understood what I said.

1] The teachers do not received a pay stub that includes all the benefits they receive from the corporation so they do not see what the employer cost is to employ them. This makes it harder for them to understand how much their health care plan is actually costing them AND the corporation. I have asked for this to be changed for THEIR benefit but it will have to wait until some state software is updated...

2] That since things are different than they have been in past with regard to health care plans, the blanket no deductible is no longer always the best plan [sum of monetary output of deductibles and copays added to what person pays out of pocket for premiums]. For this reason each teacher needs to do the math instead of just going with the statement to their representative to stay with a plan with no deductible. Like most parents who think education is the same as it was years ago and don't see the need to intervene personally, many teachers are the same creatures with other things on their minds as we are and figure the plans haven't changed all that much either so don't investigate. If I fault the teachers in my statement it is only to say that they are like many others who prioritize what they put time into. No one has said anything about fault here except you. It's just the way things happen. I also said that was ONE of the reasons...a big one but there are others as well..like building two highschools instead of one in middle of corporation...A real biggy where we have to double costs until one of the buildings is too old to function. Maybe longer than that as that would leave one still at north end unless we turned Jackson into the new HS site and I don't think roads and land are sufficient for that either. A real ongoing mess is the duplication of highschools and it will cost big bucks for many years to come that could be used for more teachers and classrooms but no quick and easy solutions.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 3:33 PM

Teachers know EXACTLY how much they and the Corporation pay for insurance premiums. I really don't see where that would change teachers' minds about deductibles, etc. They were given a vote as to whether or not they wanted higher premiums with no deductible versus lower premiums with higher deductible. They overwhelmingly chose higher premiums. There is more to a healthcare package than premiums and deductibles. Sometimes it's about coverage.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 6:14 PM


So Mr Fowler was incorrect in stating that the two plans were with the same company as far as network and providers so teachers would not have to chose different providers? So he was incorrect in saying that the total premium cost plus deductible was same and in some cases less than the premium cost alone in teacher plan? What exactly are the other factors that make the teacher's package more desirable than what the non teaching staff have now? I truly want to know as the staff and administration lead me to believe that it is truly a better and less expensive plan than teacher's have and that at least one teacher has made the request to be switched over. If you truly have a better insight to this that is being omitted by Mr Fowler, I want to know as I have asked in order to understand how the corporation spends its money and why they have made some of the decisions it has in the past.

I have also talked to several teachers about the fact that their pay check stubs do not contain the information of how much the corporation puts into their various benefits. I went back to administration to state this need and was told that it was not in current state software package that they are required to use. Some of them at least were not aware that the corporation had been paying more and more for rising health care premiums in the past as they only saw where their own portion of the increase came out of their check leading them to believe that corporation was either paying less to employ them or at least still paying the same as previously while at the same time their take home pay was decreasing.

Can you see where I'm coming from here? All I am asking for is clarification or a better understanding of the facts you might have that we as tax payers don't. I am not saying that teachers are the "bad guys" here. Just that they facts that are available to us indicate that the union is not taking advantage of what is best for those they represent. We cannot figure out why the teachers would not take advantage of this? Please give us some facts that would back up your statement. My hopes are hanging on the possibility that health care costs could come down for the corporation due to possible future decisions by union to enable an additional $300,000 to be available for academic use [more teachers more class periods, lower ratios in primary grades]. If you can debunk this hope with facts, then we can look elsewhere to make cuts and not waste anymore time on this effort.

I do not want to divide efforts but to try to swing more onto the same team to work together to improve education in this county by providing facts and work on issues we can improve.

If in fact though, some teachers have not looked into this issue thoroughly and they can see benefits of this plan, that would be great! I have no malice towards them for thinking that during past contract talks due to their past experience. I understand that teachers would not want to give up a benefit that they've had in the past but like so many of us have had to realize that with the vast array of new diagnostics ans treatments made available in past 10-15 years like MRI's, CAT scans, cancer and heart therapies, the price of healthcare with it's increase in types of procedures alone, has caused such a rapid increase of cost, that we as prospective patients are having to pay more for the choice in having some of these procedures done. For example. Head injuries. In the past MD's would only have visible symptoms such as head pain and pupilary response to judge how much brain injury might have occurred. Now an MRI and cat scan are both done to assess amount of bruising or bleeding of the brain. Any of us who had such an injury or had a child to have one would want that assessment now that it is available but it costs $$$ and we have to pay for it in our premiums. Both the employer and employee nationwide over the last 5 years have seen this reflected in their costs. Unfortunately those in our school corporation do as well. Both the corporation and individual employee has had to make choices they didn't have to 5 years ago. The staff plan seems to have choices on spending that the teacher plan doesn't. It just seems to give worse case scenario plan where the choice would be to spend the most money on health care. It seems to take away the choice of the individual employee and lump them altogether as having to make the same choice and pay the same and higher dollar amount.

Please correct me if I'm wrong on this but this is the way it's been presented to us taxpayers so I can take this back to Mr Fowler for verification and ask him why he didn't present all the facts.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Sep 15, 2008, at 8:17 AM

You people need to back off. A teacher is treated with disrespect already by the students and parents. Now you want to complain about their benifits?

Insurarnce is no longer a luxury and if they have good insurance then so be it! Doubt you would be complaining if this was your job

-- Posted by sassypants on Mon, Sep 15, 2008, at 1:32 PM

Sassy and unoit:

The various costs of education are all connected and I am just asking for details about one of the things we as taxpayers are paying for. I don't see what is so disrespectful as that if it is may question to which you are referring. Why not let bigpappy respond himself if he thinks it is? No matter how he answers it will give us information whether I like the answer or not. Someone or some group is working under misinformation. It could be the taxpayer as it seems there are two variations to the health care story out there. I'd like to know all the details so I know which one is more accurate. don't you want to know? You're paying those taxes too.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Sep 15, 2008, at 2:38 PM

Sassy.....I know, I know, here I go again!

Jenny wrote: "I have also talked to several teachers about the fact that their pay check stubs do not contain the information of how much the corporation puts into their various benefits. I went back to administration to state this need and was told that it was not in current state software package that they are required to use. Some of them at least were not aware that the corporation had been paying more and more for rising health care premiums in the past as they only saw where their own portion of the increase came out of their check leading them to believe that corporation was either paying less to employ them or at least still paying the same as previously while at the same time their take home pay was decreasing."

This is my response: If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. I'm sure we've all heard and said that comment before. I'll do my best to explain my earlier comment. First, any teacher stating he/she has no idea how much the Corp. is paying towards their insurance has their head stuck in the sand. Meetings are held and flyers are distributed to clarify this. The Corp. pays 90% of a single premium. Teachers pay approximately $69 per month on their end. As a teacher adds on more family members, the price goes up, naturally. The Corp. pays 60% of the premium for teacher and spouse. I know that much for sure because that's the option I have. My premium amounts to about $666. per month.

As Mr. Fowler pointed out, SOME teachers might prefer to be on the noncertified plan because after the deductible of $2,000/$4,000 depending on option, there is no copay, etc. for network providers. The Corp. does contribute $2,000 paid in quarterly payments to the insured's account. If you have a low usage, then that MIGHT amount to less than the user would have to spend towards premiums on the "teacher" plan. Currently, a teacher with the single option pays zero deductible with a monthly premium of $69 or roughly about $828 per year. IF that teacher happens to have something catastrophic happen, then they're not out the $2,000 up front. Thus.....a good deal for the insured.

Also, there are some other areas in the covered benefit sections of the two plans where they are not the same. One example is physical therapy and occupational thereapy, 20 visits compared to 90 visits. That is one big difference! There are other areas in the benefit sections where there are differences, but I don't have the information sheet here at home to be able to list them.

As far as to the "why" teachers are lumped together rather than given the choice of what they can have, this is the best answer I can give: There is strength in numbers. Members of the bargaining unit were given the opportunity to select from three different plans with three different rates. The old saying is that you get what you pay for, and teachers overwhelmingly voted to pay a bit of an increase and keep their benefits rather than pay less and lose some. Since the bargaining unit is supported by dues paying members, those are the teachers who were given the opportunity to make their voice heard, and that they did!

IF the "nonteaching" insurance plan is truly such a good deal for teachers, then don't you think they would be smart enough to understand that? I'm not saying the other plan isn't good for the Corporation. Anything the Corporation can do to save money at the teachers' expense is usually done. Example: Class size! (Yep, unoit, I got that part in here!) Why should teachers have to take a step backwards in their benefit package? Our lunch prices go up like everyone else's. Our expenditures for gasoline, heating oil, food, school supplies, clothing, etc. go up as well. We already spend time and money above and beyond what we should have to spend, all to compensate for the Corp. cuts.

Now, you and I are somewhat in agreement when it comes to spending unnecessarily to maintain seven elementaries. Yet, we disagree on numerous other aspects of education in CCSC.

In closing, perhaps you could answer a question or two of mine about Rose. I've heard it said that employees' children are allowed to attend the school at no cost. (One of those sounds too good to be true statements don't you think?) Also, tell me about the insurance package Rose offers your husband. I'm interested in learning about what it's like at that institution. I do know there are other places of employement that provide even better packages to their employees than what I am fortunate enough to have.

P.S.......I don't get an annual COL increase in my pay, so as prices go up, my salary basically goes down; therefore, I really, really, really want to keep my benefits!

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Thu, Sep 18, 2008, at 9:51 PM

Big Pappy:

Thank you as I am really trying to understand the detail and I seem to get facts in dribs and drabs.While I can understand the therapy reduction, the way I look at it comparing the single person rates only, the teacher is paying a net of $828 a year and the other staff costs are $0 because they are paying only what they are given as an allowance to pay that deductible? What am I missing here? Do they pay a premium on top of this deductible? The only thing I could see being unfortunate is for one to have to need a big chunk of healthcare at very beginning of the fiscal year when not all of the $2000 allowance check had been deposited yet. That way the insured would have to pay and then get reimbursed as one would for travel etc.

So single teacher pays $828 per year w/ no deductible?

Other staff [single]GETS $2,000 to cover deductible of same? Does staff pay any premium??

That would seem to me that in essense the teacher is paying $828 more than the staff member?

Does the staff member get to keep his $2K if he doesn't use it for health care deductibles?

I can answer a few of your questions here as it is an alternative method of health care that could be an option in CCSC...I don't think though the teachers would like it as except for the upper end administrators, they are making the most in the corporation and therefore would pay the most in premiums under the Rose plan.

It is a sliding health care premium plan. The premium has gone up EVERY YEAR as the employees are not union. It is what they are told it is. I won't get the actual numbers right but if one makes under a certain amount a year they pay $X and if they get paid over that amount the monthly premium increases to $X+. As the salary goes up so does the premium to $X++ and $X+++ and so forth, so that the people making more money help subsidize premiums of their lower salaried co-workers so the yearly increases in health care premiums don't take as big a cut out of the pay checks of those who don't make as much. This was instituted several years ago when health care costs began to skyrocket as it was determined that the lower paid members of the team were going to be hurt a lot more than those who were at higher salaries. It doesn't matter if you teach, administrate, or mow the grass. All full timers under same plan. I can't give you a percentage of what employee pays as it depends on what they make. Dental and eye care is not included and can be purchased at additional cost by employee as can insurance for spouse and family.

So under your union you are in some ways better off than the at will employees of the community as most are told how their plan has changed the following year in that copays and deductibles increase without any negotiations and premium can be whatever the employee will tolerate if he wants to continue to work there. If employer shops around for a better deal, the employees have no choice. The union protects its members from a lot of this by its ability to negotiate and the Indiana state law that prohibits a teacher's contract from being terminated until a new one can be agreed upon. Other union contracts such as CWA and Teamsters run out and strikes and job terminations occur to try to force both sides to compromise. It's a nice law don't get me wrong to ensure that students have a teacher in their class and the teacher has a paycheck even if he can't agree with employer but I think it makes both sides a little more obstinate to compromise when "life goes on" as normal during the bargaining process. Sort of a catch 22.

Seems to me the way you explain it that the teachers are paying an extra $828 per year to get the additional 70 therapy sessions IF they are willing to take that gambol that they will be needing them. [as we know it's all about the odds when dealing with any kind of insurance]. I wonder if there are numbers out there that show how many of the teachers do have to have more than 20 and maybe something could be worked out "in between" if it is found that they do? Would be something to look into.

I am glad that you [and maybe some of the teachers as well?] feel that we could cut some costs by reducing a building in the corporation. To me that is a no brainer as it effects inanimate object and not people. Of course there are administrators and maintenance staff in each building but the relative age of the employees might be able to make that work with retirees so those in one building could just move and not be RIF'ed. I for one would be perfectly willing to focus on that but there are many who are dead set against it. While I realize that I don't have the nostalgia that one who has lived here for many generations would have over a building, it is just a building and if not having it means that students could get more out of our corporation with more teachers and academic programs to better prepare them, the "sacrifice" is well worth it. As you said everything is going up so every family has to decide what they can do without and what they truly need to keep. I say ditch the building and keep the teachers and course offerings and get trimester or 7 period classes in there to make our kids more competitive in college and marketplace. Want to reiterate that the teachers are an essential part of education and education is one thing that a person can earn that can't be taken away. Not by war, recession, family break up. The person with the educational advantage has an advantage in many things both economic and social and the teacher provides this. They are an extremely important resource. They need to be rewarded but those who employ them need to also be responsible about how money is spent and make the right choices with regard to doing their best to both reward the teacher, educate student at highest level possible, and cut any waste that is not essential. Hard job and getting harder each year. What stays and what goes? For sure it is a question of what and not does something need to go? We have already let some things go that impact quality of education and amount of choice available to the student. Time we really think about what we really need to keep.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Fri, Sep 19, 2008, at 2:11 PM

Jenny.....You asked if Corporation personnel on the nonteaching insurance program paid premiums. The answer to that is a resounding YES. Administrative/Central Office people receive a family plan for considerably less than the single premium paid by Classified staff. I cannot give you the figures of the premiums, but I do know Admin./CO pay nearly nothing for their family's insurance. Do keep in mind that "new hires" in administration supposedly do not receive insurance benefits, but they receive a type of "benefit package" instead to purchase their insurance on their own. That's not a bad deal if they have a spouse with insurance. The last "benefit packet" amounts I knew of was a principal who received $10,000 and "someone" from CO who received $15,000 when they signed on. The teachers' Association does assist in finding the best possible insurance. The insurance committee puts in plenty of hours researching and meeting with representatives of the different insurance companies. Committee members narrow down the choices they feel are in the best interest of the teachers they represent. They look at premiums versus benefits. They would not jump ship to the plan with the lowest premiums unless they feel it is indeed the best all around deal. I have a feeling CCCTA would most likely agree to giving up their present plan if the Corp. would pay practically all of their premiums for a family insurance plan as they do the administrators and the CO staff. It is hard to understand how some Central Office staff without college degrees receive better benefit packages than teachers.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Sat, Sep 20, 2008, at 11:01 PM

Big pappy: I actually agree with you on that one. I have heard about those signing deals that the board has given a few new administrators and I disagree with that policy. I personally feel that one policy should be offered to ALL employees as a human rights and dignity statement. Salary no, as that is driven by education and various abilities but the health care is something that each member of the "team" should share equally and it makes a statement that all positions are essential to get the whole job done so all should take health care seriously in order to stay fit and achieve this goal. For example, if you don't have the bus drivers to get the kids to school, how can the teachers teach? Do you pay the bus drivers at the same rate? No as they don't have the same education, but they need to stay just as healthy, so should get the same health benefits. All of the jobs are dependent upon each other in order to get the job of educating the students done so all need to be healthy and able to perform their duties.

I will ask Mr Fowler for specific numbers as far as premiums that non teaching staff pay as employee only...As far as families, maybe there too mistakes have been made in non teaching staff areas. That though, can be modified at end of fiscal year I believe as they are all at will employees, so it will reflect other companies/corporations nationwide with current conditions. In this day and age to not pay any premium and pay only a pittance for entire family is not realistic with today's health care costs to the employer. I would hope that that would changed shortly as would the "kick back" system you mentioned as I don't think it is linked with any contract talks. I would think that administrators contracts would be annual so that too can be adjusted; even if gradually over a few year's time. Something to look into anyway.

The family plan should cost the same for anyone on the same plan. Janitor, teacher, principal. MHO only. But not necessarily have to be a "deal" where employer pays the bulk of it as being married and having children is a personal decision and not due to hiring criteria of any kind. The perk to have a group plan available to purchase through employer in itself saves money to the employee. I will also ask for in each category how much the corporation pays in premium in family plan cases and see if I can figure out the equality of it???

In mean time you have not answered my question. What does single non teaching employee pay in premium? Should I ask about that as well? As if they pay nothing, they are in fact getting a better deal than the single teacher in my estimation if they do not need more than 20 therapy sessions for a single occurance of disease or condition. You don't however have much more information than I do on single staff premium payment. Putting extra family members into the equation doesn't really show anything as it's like adding apples and oranges. All fruit, but if we don't personally eat apples, doesn't mean anything to us. First best to get information of what the coverage is for single employee to figure out the comparison.

As to the employer paying for the spouse/family...not sure that is a debatable issue except for it being included in teacher union negotiations in the past. Take for instance Rose as you like to bring it up. Years ago that institution would pay for family but later found that with rising costs, it could no longer do so. Employee then had option of finding other insurance for family independently or buying it through Rose. I still don't feel that SOME of the teachers realize just how much health care cost has risen in past 5-6 years and in turn don't realize that some companies have faced the choice of either going out of business or passing on some of that health care cost to their employees or they wouldn't be in business so as to have the position and job. This very thing happened at RCA plant down in Vincennes area I think. Union would not budge on their demands and RCA could not afford what was demanded and their counteroffer was turned down by union as they thought it was bluff. RCA closed the plant and moved to Mexico so jobs were lost instead of just a higher premium. That's how bad it's gotten. Now the school corporation is not going to go out of business, but if it lets expenses get too high in some areas, the state will come take over. That in turn will take the choice out of our hands and have programs cut that we need to keep. The state doesn't look into which programs are more important to keep and which aren't. They look at the bottom line and start hacking away. Do I agree with the way the corporation has funded certain things? No. They should not be used as bargaining ships to give a potential employee more cash. If someone doesn't want the insurance plan that corporation offers, fine, they opt out IF they can prove they have another one, but don't get what it costs as cash refund. Health care plans are to keep employees healthy and productive so they can do what they were hired to do. If a person likes their spouse's plan better they can keep it as a primary plan, not get more money than their job description states. That's the fault of the person doing the hiring though. Don't blame the employee for asking. If that employee wanted more money, it should have been put down as salary if job market is such that his position demanded a higher salary. Health care should be the same across the board as an equal benefit for all employees as each member of the team deserves the best that the employer can afford to provide as a benefit. Note key word here, afford.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, Sep 21, 2008, at 3:23 PM

Again, I cannot tell you how much the premium is for nonteaching personnel. I do not have that information sheet here at home. Also, I still stand firm in my belief that any teacher/employee not knowing how much is paid in health care premiums is walking around with their head in the sand. ALL EMPLOYEES are given that information. The sheet shows the Corp. monthly contribution and the employee's premium cost as well.

Also, you might recall that I said there were other benefit differences from one plan to another besides the therapy sessions. I simply don't have that information right now.

My spouse's employer hasn't offered health care insurance to its employees for decades so I'm grateful to have the great policy I do. Teachers have very few perks, so as long as it's offered, I'll be a taker. If I'm forced to give up what I have, then I'll find insurance elsewhere or go without as people all over our country do.

I'm sure Mr. Fowler would be more than happy to provide you with all the information you want concerning insurance.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Sun, Sep 21, 2008, at 5:11 PM

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