Health care tops contract debates School districts focus negotiations on cost of retirees’ benefits

Amy Hetzner:

After years of watching escalating health insurance costs eat up and even surpass the savings provided by early retirements, some public school districts are getting tough in contract negotiations to reduce benefit levels.
The Hartland-Lakeside School Board and its teachers union went to arbitration in mid-December as district officials sought to cap insurance benefits and lower a stipend given to retiring teachers.
The Waukesha School Board has gone even further, denying almost all early retirement requests by teachers for the past two years as it advances toward arbitration in contract negotiations.

Health care cost growth has also been an issue locally.