Employee health insurance, referenda discussions on Madison School Board agenda Monday

Scott Girard:

The Madison School Board will discuss the potential November referenda and proposed employee health insurance changes Monday.

The Operations Work Group meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building, 545 W. Dayton St., is likely the last opportunity for board members to ask for broad changes ahead of anticipated votes at the March 23 meeting.

Presentations planned for the board Monday show similar referenda plans as have been discussed for months, though staff have offered up three options for the operating referendum ask in addition to the $36 million one that has been previously discussed. The additional options would all lower the amount, reducing the tax burden but also forcing tighter budgets.

The health insurance changes, first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal last week, would require employees to contribute more to their premiums and could have the district change one of its providers.

According to Monday’s meeting materials, there is a $4.6 million increase in premiums the providers will charge the district, which had budgeted $0 for an increase in funding employee benefits whether an operating referendum passes or fails. That means the gap needs to be filled in other ways.

Changes to providers and potentially changing the plans retirees use would save an estimated $3.8 million, while doubling the premium contributions for most staff would save $1.8 million, according to the presentation planned Monday. The premium contribution for teachers on the HMO plan, for example, would go from 3% to 6%, costing an extra $44.48 per month.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Health insurance costs have long been an issue in the Madison School District.

Administrators warned that benefits were unsustainable in 2014.

Much more on the planned 2020 tax and spending increase Madison referendum.

A presenter [org chart] further mentioned that Madison spends about $1 per square foot in annual budget maintenance while Milwaukee is about $2.