Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Insurance rates rising for Ephrata school employees BY DEAN LEE EVANS, Correspondent
Participants in Ephrata Area School District's medical plan can expect their costs to go up.
The school board on Jan. 21 approved a 9 percent increase to the medical and dental rates for employees and dependents under the district's insurance plan.
"Our plan is doing well, but like everyone else, costs are going up," board president Timothy Stayer said.
The district's benefit advisory committee recommended the increase after it reviewed data compiled by consultants Conrad Siegel Actuaries and Lincoln Benefit Trust.
"To keep that fund viable and appropriate, we will fund it by that much more," Stayer said.
Business manager Kristee Reichard said the district is self-funded.
"We pay ourselves into a pot of money where all our claims are paid from and administrative fees are paid from," she said.
Reichard said the current insurance fund balance is about $4 million, but the district is trending just over 16 percent of that balance in claims.
"Even with the 9 percent (increase), we are going to eat up some of our fund balance a little bit. But this way, with what the actuary showed us, we are looking to smooth out the claims," Reichard said.
Board member Glenn Martin, who supports the self-insurance program, said the increase "is the only way to keep claims at a moderate level."
Reichard added that the increase "will not only be for the employee side but also for the employer side. That will also raise the co-pays the employees pay as part of the collective bargaining agreement."
She said the increase -- as far as a self-funded insurance plan goes -- was modest compared to those of other districts with similar plans.
Reichard said she has heard that other districts are having to increase rates by more than 20 percent.
Stayer said more information on the district's insurance program will be forthcoming.
In other business:
n The board approved a service contract agreement with the Cocalico School District to provide afternoon kindergarten services for an elementary student who lives in Cocalico. The contract amount for the 2012-13 school year was $5,184.40, or a per diem rate of $49.85.
n Approved a contract agreement for the 2012-13 school year with Jean Semder of Lancaster to provide individual reading instruction for students who require an explicit systematic instructional approach for reading. The cost to the district will be $50 per hour and $25 travel per session. The total hours shall not exceed 10 per week, and the district will be invoiced monthly.
n Approved an agreement with 360 Degree Customer Inc. of San Jose, Calif., to provide consultants for speech therapy for the 2012-13 school year. The company is expected to provide the district with professional services, studies and/or reports as well as hold IEP meetings, complete IEPs, track and monitor all services and attend meetings and training. The consultant will work up to 20 hours per week at a rate of $74 per hour.
n Approved an agreement with the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 to provide wide-area network Internet and telephone services through June 30, 2018, in the amount of $30,346.72 per year.
The IU-13 serves as the consortium leader, which provides consortium members with WAN and other Internet services. The WAN services have increased IU data offerings from 100 megabytes to 1 gigabyte, and it anticipates expanding the scope of services to include telephony services.
n Approved a $4,000 contribution to the Ephrata Public Library for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
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