Benefits package: Re-2 staff seek more affordable premiums
A recent survey of Garfield Re-2 teachers and staffers reveals they seek more affordable health insurance premiums, a district administrator said.
Trying to lay out new benefits packages during a regular meeting Feb. 9, District Director of Human Resources Kayla Reece said the district currently offers two medical plans.
Under either plan, an Re-2 employee on a family package pays more than $1,000 per month, while the district contributes less than that per month.
“We know that our premiums are very high and highly unaffordable for our staff,” she said.
According to a presentation by Reece, the 2022-23 school year could see Re-2 district choosing from three new possible medical packages for its 596 employees who are currently eligible to receive benefits.
“We have two big decisions coming ahead of us with salaries and benefits to try to provide a more affordable option for our families, for our single moms, single dads,” Reece said. “We have employees that quit to stay on Medicaid because a parent making $13 an hour can’t afford our medical plan.”
The Garfield Re-2 district has been required under the Affordable Care Act to provide group medical coverage since 2010. Since then, the district decided to offer the plans they have now through a self-funded model, Reece said.
Under the self-funded model, however, the district is paying less in contributions compared to surrounding districts. According to slides, not only are family medical packages less expensive in districts like Mesa D51, Roaring Fork and Garfield 16, those districts are pitching in more for medical coverage.
“It’s important that when we talk about recruiting and retaining that we look at the other districts that are comparable in size, and those that we often sometimes lose teachers to or other staff members,” Reece said.
The three potential medical packages the district could offer next school year show modest long-term cost decreases. This includes offsetting employee renewal rates — and having the district increase contributions.
Meanwhile, most of the newly presented options would reduce medical costs for employees while increasing contributions by the district. In one package scenario, rates will reduce significantly for additional family members on an employee’s plan as it won’t “matter how many children you have,” Reece said.
In addition to reducing employee costs for medical coverage, Reece also proposed ways to bolster mental health benefits as well as fringe benefits, like gym memberships.
Garfield Re-2 board members asked which medical options would help recruit and retain more employees, while they also asked which options would help reduce costs to both individual and family benefits packages.
Board member Britton Fletchall questioned whether there’s even enough Re-2 staff out there who know what benefits are needed and what packages are on the table. He said only 50% of Re-2 staff did the original survey.
“We’re spending a lot of time working on benefits for our employees and getting the feedback that we need from them. And then when we do provide it, are they going to properly use it? Or how many of those services that we’re spending so much time trying to provide are going to go totally neglected?”
Reece said more information on employee benefits packages will be presented and finalized during the Feb. 23 district board meeting.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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