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October 5, 2010

Future health care costs discussed

Health care costs and the impact of state and federal healthcare mandates were highlighted at the Buildings & Grounds and Finance Committee meeting. Representatives from Hays Companies, the district’s insurance consultants, gave a brief overview on key factors that could have an impact on insurance costs.

As a self-insured employer, the district purchases stop loss insurance to cover high-cost individual and aggregate healthcare expenses. The district recently increased the annual specific deductible from $50,000 to $60,000 per individual.  Below this amount the district is responsible for eligible health care expenditures, and above it the stop loss insurer is. The move added exposure to the district, but provided savings in premium expenses.

State mandates that took effect in September will likely increase health care costs for the district, according to the Hays Company representatives. These mandates include:

  • Covering dependents to age 27 years instead of 25 years;
  • Providing the same level of coverage for mental health and substance abuse as medical services;
  • Covering treatment for autism spectrum disorders; and
  • Providing cochlear implants for children 13 years and younger who need them, and hearing aids once every three years

Federal mandates will take effect in September, 2011 and include:

  • Providing unlimited lifetime coverage for essential benefits  (the district’s maximum is now  $1 million);
  • Restricting application of pre-existing conditions to individuals up to age 19 years; and
  • Not allowing over-the-counter medicine as eligible expenses covered through flexible spending accounts.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Bryan Ruud said that the changes will have an impact on future insurance expense for all businesses and organizations. He said he would ask Hays Companies representatives to keep School Board members abreast of changes at future meetings.

Nursing services increase

School Board members approved increasing the nursing contract from 625 hours to 1,040 hours because of a new state mandate that requires all staff members who provide medication to be trained by a nurse or a doctor. All school personnel who administer medication to students must receive Department of Public Instruction-approved training. Staff must have their medication administration skills verified by a nurse or physician.

Curriculum initiatives key to learning

Several curriculum initiatives are underway during the 2010-11 school year that Educational Service and Human Resources Director John Roubik outlined.

  • Staff members are identifying essential overall and unit learning targets as well as unit summative assessments.
  • An enriched curriculum review process that includes 21st century skills and Information and Technology Literacy is being completed for mathematics, financial literacy and employability skills, writing and secondary-level communication arts.
  • Vertical teams identify essential skills and concepts so that they can be taught with increasing sophistication and depth as students move through grades and courses;
  • The process of developing common assessments involves identifying learning targets, assessment development, instruction, evaluation of student performance and then refinement of instructional strategies and the assessment.
  • The district’s reading specialists facilitate reading and writing workshops for elementary teachers to assist in implementation of the curriculum.
  • Teacher collaboration through early release days, monthly department meetings and common planning time helps ensure curriculum articulation and smooth transitions for students as they move from grade and course levels.

AODA efforts reported

A variety of methods are used to keep students from getting involved in alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA). Student Assistance Program and AODA Coordinator Kristin Hasbrook presented an annual report to School Board members about those efforts and the results that have been achieved.

Hasbrook reported that in addition to initial screening and referral services provided to students through guidance counselors, staff and administration, students get support through various school activities. The number of high school students who received individual support on a regular basis increased from 52 to 99 students. She attributed the increase to students feeling comfortable with sharing information. She continued working with the In-Health organization to provide training to selected sophomores on depression and suicide prevention so that they could present information to their peers. Among other activities, Hasbrook facilitated a high school teen leader group to support teens with grief and a middle school peer mediation program. She also presented information about drugs and alcohol in middle and elementary school classrooms.

The cost to provide AODA education and counseling services to students amounts to $32,392, with federal Title IV funds covering $8,566 of the total. The remaining $23,826 is covered by the district.

The Get Connected Program is funded through grants from United Way of Waukesha County. Hasbrook coordinated 12 Get Connected programs for parents. She published six parenting columns in school newsletters, worked to get additional United Way funding, implemented a six-week Love and Logic course for elementary parents and provided direct support for 51 families.

Personnel business

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved the retirement of Lannon Elementary School cleaner Janet Muehlbauer; and
  • accepted the resignation of Maple Avenue Elementary School cleaner Thomas Black.