The Madison County School Board unanimously approved its fiscal year 2020 budget Monday.
The $21.3 million budget requests $9.7 million in local funding, an increase of $697,876 over the current year. That number has fluctuated, initially at a $241,000 increase before accumulating to over a million thanks to a 30.8 percent increase in health insurance rates. The rate change amounts to an increase of $768,468. However, that number has decreased thanks to a proposed modification of the plans offered.
Last week, superintendent Anna Graham explained that to decrease insurance costs, the plans offered have been modified. Gone is the current $250 deductible plan. The $500 deductible remains and a $1,000 deductible plan has been added. This drops the insurance increase by approximately $300,000 to $464,054. However, while those are the numbers in the budget, nothing is set in stone. While the budget will become part of the budget supervisors approve in May, health insurance renewals are not due until October giving the board time to research additional options.
The board is still evaluating an alternative partially self insured plan offered by Captive. Graham explained that one option under Captive would be to eliminate the $250 and $500 deductible options, swapping them out for $1,000 and $4,000 deductible options. The higher of the two would include a health savings account. The plans also include a wellness program offering employees an opportunity to reduce their deductibles by up to $750.
Meanwhile, Graham said the $500 and $1,000 options currently included in the budget are offered at the same rate to employees as the current plans with the school board covering the rest.
Board chairman Barry Penn Hollar pointed out that the insurance would only cost employees more if they used it more since they would need to cover a higher deductible.
“I hate the idea of employees having to pay more,” school board member Bob Chappell said.
Also included in the budget is 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.
In addition to local funding, the budget is balanced using approximately $2.2 million in state sales tax revenue, $7.7 million in state revenue, $888,000 in federal funding and $857,000 in other funds. Though approved by school board members, the budget won’t become final until the county budget is approved next month.