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Palm Coast Tuesday, Apr. 7, 2020 3 months ago

Flagler Schools employees could face 7% hike in insurance costs

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Human resources officer called the situation 'bleak.'
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

After a 15% increase on insurance premiums last year, Flagler Schools teachers and staff could be required to pay an additional 7% this year if the School Board approves the latest recommendations by the advisory committee and insurance agency Brown and Brown, presented during a workshop April 7.

School Board member Colleen Conklin called the news “disappointing.” Chief Human Resources Director Jewel Johnson called the committee discussions “bleak.”

In addition to the premium hike, the maximum out of pocket would also increase; for a single person, it would go from $6,350 up to $7,000. Wellness incentives would stay in place, including a $200 paying to employees for getting an annual wellness exam at the school’s clinic.

Julie Freidus, of Brown and Brown, told the School Board that the teachers had staff are “savvy” with their health care. About 90% are using generic prescriptions.

But prescription costs are still going up. As an example, Freidus said she is aware of a cystic fibrosis treatment that costs $500,000 per year.

In addition to the employees paying more for health insurance, the district would also increase its contribution by 5%. That will further reduce the reserves, which had been increasing. Depending on the district’s health costs, made even more unpredictable by COVID-19, in the next six months, the reserves could be reduced to as low as 21% of the $11.3 million annual premium. The state requires at least 17% to be in reserve.

 

Virtual School Board

For the Pledge of Allegiance, Flagler County School Board members saluted a picture of an American flag, via Zoom, on a tablet held up by board member Andy Dance in his home.

There was no physical meeting place on April 7; instead, board members attended from home offices and front porches, with pet dogs and cats occasionally walking by in the background.

Dance noted that Trevor Tucker looked like a “witness protection silhouette.”

School Board Chairwoman Janet McDonald, who usually ends the meeting by striking a wooden gavel, quipped at the meeting’s conclusion: “Do we bang something?”

The community can watch future meetings by clicking on the “livestream” button on the top right of www.flaglerschools.com. Archives are at videos.flaglerschools.com. Submit public comments at fcsb.link/comments.

McDonald praised the teachers and staff for their “incredible investments of time and energy, far greater than the average work day” during the school closures in the coronavirus outbreak.

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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