"The real question in my mind is what is the real cost of the insurance to the administrators," board member Ron Scherb said. "I am in favor of tabling the issue until we have more information because I've gotten two different figures on what the cost is for the administrators."
According to information passed out during the October meeting, there are seven administrators receiving stipends of $15,000-$20,000 yearly. This is in addition to their regular salaries, instead of insurance and retirement benefits.
"The real key here isn't what is fair to these seven individuals, it's what is fair to the 99 percent or approximate 700 individuals who are not receiving a stipend," Scherb said. "I don't believe that we should pay cash to a person if (they don't) want health insurance. And the problem is that we don't let other employees in the corporation have that option."
Another board member agreed with Scherb.
"From my understanding, it was put out there by the corporation as a way to save money because at that time, they were short in their cash balance," board member Amy Adams said. "So now we are taking a look and seeing, if this stipend saves so much money, as it has been purposed for the corporation for the administrators. Then we would like to take a look and see if we can extend this option gradually over the next year to the teachers."
With the possibility of having more money cut by the state, Adams' focus is on the money.
"If this is such a great deal, then I'm not understanding why we are not offering a stipend to everyone," she said. "I am also in favor of tabling this until December."
As discussions continued, board member Dottie King clarified the stipends and explained her stance and past vote in favor of them.
"Tabling it I have nothing to say about it, if people need more information before making an informed vote, then that is definitely what we need to do," King said. "It is really dangerous however when you start making comparisons between things that are not equitable."
King explained how the stipends came into existence. According to her, all administrators were using the health insurance. At that time, it became a cost savings because the stipend was cheaper for the corporation than the insurance.
"The question that has been raised tonight is how much the employee pays for the insurance but the real question, when this decision was made and therefore it is pertinent, was how much was the corporation paying and how can we save the corporation money," she said. "So the stipend was pure and simple. Nothing complicated about it, it was a cost savings measure. It was what incentive can we give people to leave the health insurance and save the corporation money."
King then discussed how opening the stipends to other employee groups would not be equitable because not all the employees in those groups have health insurance.
"Not all the teachers are taking health insurance. In fact, a large percentage of them are not," she said. "So I'm sure that would sound like a pretty good deal. So we don't want to throw that out there because that would cost the corporation a lot of money."
"This is a public meeting and I don't want to make it sound like we could even entertain the possibility," she said. "It is not the same scenario."
King also expressed her views on the stipend being a good or bad idea.
"It was definitely a good idea at the time," she said. "No matter what you think today, at the time it accomplished what we needed it too. Because of it we have a good cash balance so we can have these discussions. So I have no regrets for voting for that because it got us to here."
Discussion among board members continued on the topic of health insurance. Board members received a breakdown of the number of individuals in groups that are on different health insurance plans. Though board members inquired on which individuals were on which plans, the administration cannot release the information based on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The board unanimously approved to table the administrative stipends topic.