Officials of Madison County Public Schools are evaluating how healthy the division is, but it doesn’t have anything to do with academics.

Employees are completing a health risk assessment to determine the division’s actual health thanks to a proposed 30.8 percent increase in health insurance rates.

According to superintendent Anna Graham, the insurance renewal increase from Local Choice was received March 1. It equates to an increase of $768,468 that would need to be covered through local funding. The draft fiscal year 2020 budget already requests $9.2 million in local funding, an increase of $241,415 over the current year. It includes a 3 percent increase for all employees (just over two-thirds of which is covered by state revenue); a reduction of two full-time positions (one unfilled director of testing position and one assistant principal position); a new special education position; moving the athletic trainer to full-time; increasing one position from 10 to 11 months; two positions from 11 to 12 months; bringing the previously outsourced part-time speech position in-house and funds to reduce the parent paid portion of dual enrollment from $73 per credit to $32 per credit.

Graham said administrators are seeking alternate options regarding health insurance.

Last month, school board members discussed Captive, a self-insured option that passes savings onto the school divisions. She said the confidential health assessments will give a snapshot as to how healthy the school division is. The assessments are kept anonymous and are submitted in sealed envelopes. Those envelopes will remain sealed and sent to underwriters as well as Captive administrators to determine if its still a viable insurance option.

“It’s taxpayer money and we question the increase,” Graham said. “Is the risk truly our own or are we paying other costs that [the insurance company] has?”

The health assessments will be submitted this week after which results should be available later this month.

In the meantime, Graham and director of finance Tina Cropp have been meeting with employees in the various schools to discuss the rate increase.

“I applaud your efforts,” school board member Bob Chappell said. “Thirty percent is outrageous. None of us can afford that.”

Graham intends to present a budget March 28 at 6 p.m. She had previously planned to present a proposed budget this week.

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