Approval of a new three-year contract for district principals, acceptance of a bid for district health insurance coverage and approval of the 2015-16 fee schedule were among the items on the agenda at the regular meeting of the Becker Board of Education Monday night. The board also heard an update on an on-going administrative capacity study.
Chairman Aaron Jurek informed the board negotiations with the Becker Administrator Association (Principals) had reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract. Jurek and Board Member Phil Norgaard were the district negotiators on the contract package, which includes an increase of 7.66 per cent over the span of the agreement.
The base salary increase will be 2.25 per cent for each of the three years of the contract, with the total package of salary and benefits at 2.55 per cent each year for a total increase of 7.66 per cent over the life of the contract. The agreement also includes increases in health care coverage and spells out compensation details for event supervision and site-based team activities as well as professional leave and retirement incentives.
Jurek stated the contract negotiations had gone well, with each side prepared to make the necessary compromises for success. Board members Jurek, Jason Kindred, Lori Molus and Bryan R. Olson all voted in favor of the agreement. Board members Mark Swanson and Norgaard did not attend the Monday meeting.
The board approved a recommendation from Supt. Dr. Stephen Malone to accept a bid for district health insurance coverage from Health Partners. In his report to the board, Malone stated the Health Insurance Transparency Act (HITA) requires school districts to seek at least three bids from providers every two years in most cases.
Bid requests were sent to Health Partners (the current provider), Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, Preferred One, Medica and the Public Employers Insurance Program (as required by statute). Following the opening of those bids in April, the district was able to negotiate a second round of sealed bids in May, which saw Health Partners reduce their costs.
Fixed costs for plan administration, access to the provider network and reinsurance are expected to remain the same over the next two years, Malone said. The premium goes into effect Oct. 1, and will be determined by the school district in August, when expanded claims data becomes available.
The board accepted the proposed 2015-16 fee schedule at the Monday night meeting, which included some minor changes in meal prices and activities and fine arts fees. Lunch in the primary, intermediate, middle and high schools will go up by ten cents to $2.25, $2.35 and $2.40, respectively, while activities and fine arts fees in grades 9-12 will rise by $10 to $150 and $95, while the same fees for seventh and eighth-grade students will now be $115 and $85. The family maximum will be $650 in 2015-16, an increase of $50 over the previous year.
Dr. Greg Vandal appeared before the board to provide details of a study he is conducting in regard to efficiencies in administrative functions within the school district.
Vandal, an educational consultant from St. Cloud, provided a three-part report on the study he is conducting, which included reviewing details of an administrative study on staffing levels conducted by Malone, the results of a series of interviews Vandal has conducted with district administrative staff, and the appropriateness of individual assignments to specific departments and individuals.
Vandal stated the study does not include Community Education, the Activities Office or the District Transportation Dept., but is focused mainly on administrative and support staff functions. In his comments, Vandal noted the district has “a highly effective team” in place in the administrative area.
Jurek said his main question was whether the district had sufficient numbers of administrative staff to handle the workload. Vandal will present his findings at a special board meeting Mon., Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Malone informed the board a projected cost reduction of $20,000 from the Building and Grounds and Transportation programs last March turned out to be much lower than the actual reduction total, which will be $82,000. The savings are the result of having bus repairs and maintenance done “in-house” rather than subcontracted to outside providers, and through reductions in the Building and Grounds and Transportation director contracts.
The board also accepted two gifts of $1,000 each from the Clear Lake Lions Club which were given to help finance the high school and middle school spring plays next year.