At its Monday, April 12, meeting, the Superior School Board will consider changes to the district’s employee handbook, including an updated salary schedule and removing the option for retirees to remain on the district’s health and dental insurance plans.
Board members had already agreed in March to increase the employee salary scale by the Consumer Price Index of 1.23%. At the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, April 5, District Administrator Amy Starzecki said she plans to put forward an action item next week that will bump that increase to 2%.
“We want to stay competitive with neighboring school districts. That’s been a goal of ours,” Starzecki said. “We continue to be behind on some aspects of salary schedule. We want to be at least at or a little above, and we’re below in some aspects.”
Another change would give the district the option to start employees whose positions require additional training or certification at a higher step. That would give the district a competitive edge as it searches for high-demand employees such as school psychologists and occupational, speech and physical therapists, Starzecki said.
The board will also consider handbook language that tweaks short-term and long-term disability for employees and removes the option for retirees to stay on the district’s insurance plan.
There are currently 369 active and 42 retired employees on the district’s health insurance, according to a presentation given to the board. It was initially offered to provide a bridge to retirees who were not yet eligible for Medicare and had limited options for coverage.
“We kept retirees on because it was cheaper for them to buy into our system rather than go out and find it,” board Vice President Christina Kintop said, but that has changed over the years.
The number of retirees who choose to stay on the district’s insurance has been declining since 2014, as better options have become available to them.
Through the current insurance carrier, it costs more per year to cover a retiree than a current employee, the board was told. If retirees were not on the plan this year, the district would have seen a nearly 5% decrease in costs, which equates to more than $200,000.
One benefit of staying on the school’s plan was that retirees did not have to set up their own payment plan. That benefit is going away on July 1, Director of Human Resources Molly Devine Webb said.
If the district removes the option, retirees currently on the district’s plan would be eligible for COBRA insurance. Webb said the district plans to put together information on other options for them, as well.
Costa Rica trip plans change
In other business, students who were unable to go to Costa Rica on a class trip last spring will have the option to travel this year, but it will no longer be a school-sponsored trip.
“They’ll have to sign a waiver that releases liability from the district for travel,” Starzecki said.
Last year, 26 juniors and seniors were poised to make the trip when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. They could not get a refund for the trip costs, but were able to transfer the funds to this year. A dozen of the students plan to travel to Costa Rica in June with four chaperones.