District seeks health insurer for employees
Superintendent says current proposed rate increase creates near-crisis
Lansing School District will keep its current health insurance provider, despite a 24 percent increase in rates, Superintendent Randal Bagby said Wednesday.
Bagby made the decision after soliciting bids from seven other insurers, five of which declined because of the district's low rate of participation by employees in the insurance program.
The two companies that bid gave similar rates to Humana's, Bagby said.
Humana will charge $1,301 per month for a family health care plan, he said. The district contributes $150 to employees with single plans and $242 for employee-and-spouse, employee-and-child or family plans.
The Lansing School Board on Monday night gave Bagby the go-ahead to make a decision on insurance providers by Wednesday, which was one of the few days between now and the Sept. 1 enrollment deadline that teachers could be gathered for an explanation of the district's health care benefits.
Also Monday, the board approved changing providers for the employee assistance program, which provides mental health counseling. The board dropped Professional Association and adopted The Mental Health Consortium.
Bagby said that he was happy with the services of Professional Association but liked the additional features such as financial and legal services and tax preparation.
"It's not about the quality of the other service," Bagby said, "it's about adding value."
Other added services with The Mental Health Consortium include a 24-hour helpline and a quarterly newsletter, which he said could help to raise awareness of the services. He said he also thought that more publicity of the services would decrease some of the stigma of utilizing mental health help.
"These services need to be as usual and ordinary as going to my dentist," he said.
The cost of the new employee assistance program will remain the same, $2.50 per employee per month for up to three consulations, paid by the district, but there is an additional $400 initiation cost.
In other action, the board:
¢ Adopted the agenda and approved the consent agenda.
¢ Heard a presentation from Rick McKee about Operation Graduation 2006. McKee said the event would be held May 20 at Fort Leavenworth, and he asked the board members for contributions of money, time or public relations for the event.
¢ Heard acknowledgements. District principals thanked the custodial staffs of their buildings and said enrollment went well. Board member Craig Gephart acknowledged district administrators for their work.
¢ Received a budget workshop update from Bagby, who distributed a packet with information about bills passed during this year's state legislative sessions that include changes in laws relating to schools, school spending and budgeting.
¢ Received information on a potential auxiliary road for access to the high school parking lot during construction of the auditorium.
Bagby said he and district director building and grounds Dale Bohannon were looking into building a permanent road that would connect the parking lot to East Mary Street because the current access road to the parking lot would be partially blocked by the construction area fences.
The cost of the road would be about $70,000 and would come out of the capital outlay budget, Bagby said. The cost of surveys done so far has been $5,000, he said.
The road would not affect the elementary school playground, Bohannon said.
¢ Heard an administrative report from assistant superintendent Donna Hughes about new teacher orientation. She said she was impressed with the new teachers.
¢ Approved the list of out-of-district students as proposed.
¢ Decided to discuss a board retreat at its next meeting. Board vice president Shelly Gowdy asked that the retreat be used to set goals. Board president Brian Bode asked that the board members review past action plans and be ready to discuss the objective of the retreat as well as the date and time at the Sept. 12 meeting.
¢ Set a special meeting for a joint session with Lansing City Council.
The board and city council meet annually to discuss items of mutual interest, Gowdy said. Bode added that the board and council annually renew an agreement to share facilities at the meeting.
The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Lansing Middle School choir room, immediately preceding the regular September board meeting.
¢ Selected Gowdy and Beth Stevenson to be the board's representatives to the Governmental Relations Network, which is a lobbying organization for the Kansas Association of School Boards.
¢ Approved the contract retaining Susan Murphy as director of the New Decisions program, which provides services to at-risk students and is funded by a grant.
¢ Approved district handbooks with the exception of those for certified staff. Babgy said the handbooks needed to be reviewed for sections that did not agree with the negotiated contracts and board policy.
¢ Met in executive session for 35 minutes to discuss personnel matters and teacher renegotiations.
¢ Approved making a half-time reading teacher full-time using money designated by the state for at-risk programs.
¢ Approved adding another fourth-grade teacher to keep class sizes down. The addition means there will be seven fourth-grade sections this year at Lansing Intermediate School.
¢ Approved the resignation of David Moser, a high school science teacher who was sent to Iraq.
¢ Approved the appointments of Vickie Kelly as half-time kindergarten teacher and Betty Bell as full-time reading teacher.
¢ Discussed saying the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of each meeting. Bode said saying the pledge would start next meeting.
Bode had noted that he had recited the pledge every day when he went to school.
The Lansing City Council, too, opens all of its regular meetings with recitation of the pledge.