By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
District renews health plan, gets early look at budget
MONROE - Teachers in Monroe will have a five-year health insurance rate freeze after the Monroe school board approved a health insurance renewal with Dean in a board meeting Monday.

The board voted 8-0 to approve the health plan renewal with Dean. Since Dean purchased Monroe Clinic, Monroe Business Administrator Ron Olson said they have offered to price the school district's health plan like the Madison market. He said this will allow the district to keep the health plan similar in structure to other Badger Conference schools and Madison area districts.

"This will provide a lot of stability for something that has provided a lot of uncertainty," Olson said. "It gives us stability in our budget for the long term. It will provide a lot of stability for staff. We will be at or below where a lot of other smaller districts are with similar plans."

Current annual costs for health insurance in the district are $5.5 million with the district's share being just less than $5 million.

Olson said the timing of Dean's acquisition of Monroe Clinic was fortunate because district leaders selected Dean to bid on a health insurance plan renewal.

Monroe District Administrator Rick Waski said the five-year health insurance rate freeze is unprecedented because the longest freeze he has seen for a district is three years.

Olson said the freeze includes deductibles in the third year from $100/$200 to $200/$400, office co-pays from $20 to $30 and co-pays in the prescription drug plan from $5/$10/$20 to $10/$25/$50.

In other action Monday:

• Olson updated the board on the district's 2018-19 preliminary budget. Olson said there is an estimated $125,000 deficit projected for next year.

The final budget will not be determined until the third Friday in September's enrollment count and state aid numbers are finalized. The preliminary budget projection does include the district's new employee retirement benefit plan approved last month. However, it does not include three new instructional staff retirements, Olson said.

"The area that really saved us when you look at it is our health care costs," Olson said. "Our ability to have contained that cost over four years has made our budget work. We are ahead of the game. We had a bigger deficit projected last year for the coming year."

Olson said the district at first projected a $425,000 deficit combined for this year and next year. However, this year, Olson said the deficit was $200,000 and next year it was first projected at about $225,000.

Olson will update the board on the budget in May, and in June the district will approve a temporary operating budget. In August, the board will update the budget for the district's annual meeting. Budget adjustments and final budget approval will be made in October.

• Approved five value statements and four to five goals for each one. The goals came out of a collaborated effort between administrators, board members and community members during a community forum in recent months. The board plans to gauge the progress of each goal and report on them annually.

The five value statements are as follows:

"Our district values school and community partnerships that provide and sustain opportunities which help our students become valuable contributing members of our local and global economy." An example of one of four goals under this value is: "Improve the number and frequency of workplace experiences (i.e., student work placements, guest speakers, tours of local businesses, job fairs) for our students and staff annually by 50 percent over the previous year for the next three school years."

"Our district values the social and emotional well-being of our students and staff while promoting the life and employability skills necessary to be successful in the global community." For example, one goal in this section is to identify and administer a social-emotional measurement tool for students and staff that will be used to support programming and services.

"Our district values student academic growth and achievement through an engaging and rigorous curriculum which offers diverse educational opportunities for all students." One example of a goal in this category is to achieve significantly exceeds expectations as a district on the state report card.

"Our district values creating and maintaining a supportive and professional work environment in order to recruit and retain highly qualified and effective staff." One goal in this category is to annually review compensation studies that identify the district's salary and benefit ranking to ensure the average staff salary is at the 50th percentile or higher along appropriate area, state and comparative benchmarks.

"Our district values the creation of flexible short and long-term plans to ensure students and staff have access to facilities which will provide optimal learning and working environments." One goal in this area is to establish a system to annually evaluate and address the safety and security of school buildings.

• Approved the instructional staff resignation of Allison Cook, a third-grade teacher at Northside Elementary School.

• Approved the instructional staff retirements of Beth Ableman-Bernet, the LMC director; Rudy Bernet, a physical education teacher at Northside; and Jacqui Schutz, a first-grade teacher at Parkside Elementary School.

• Agreed to replace 177 lockers on the second floor at Monroe Middle School. The board approved Marshfield Book & Stationary's bid of $28,877.80 to replace the lockers. The district is paying for the work out of the long-term maintenance budget.