School’s health care budget exceeds cost evaluation

After an exciting couple of months full of budget speculation and the settlement of the looming health care dispute and curriculum questions, it was back to business as usual for the Trumbull Board of Education at its May 3 meeting.

Just a week removed from the threat of issuing 80 pink slips to teachers throughout the district, there was an air of positivity surrounding the meeting.

With a state budget approval deadline set for midnight on May, 4, the education board was confident that with the outcome of the approval and that Governor Malloy’s state budget cuts would have no effect on the town’s education budget.

However, the health care budget is still a tricky item of interest. According to the education board, it is important to note that 2016-2017 health care budget is estimated to have a shortfall of $700,000 due to an underfunded budget by $200,000 as well as the cost of the bargaining unit negotiations with the TEA.

As for 2015-2016, the health care budget is exceeding its cost evaluation due to very high claims for health benefits under the old self-insured policy. Through the month of March, claims are up 14% and dropped to 7% through April, yet they are still up 13% on a year-to-year basis.

According to the board, these high volume claims will have to be offset by the budget’s excess health claim reserve and will be helped by funds being freed up from the March spending freeze.

It was also reported at the meeting that the school system is spending at a rate higher than their estimated growth for the 2015-2016 budget.

They are exceeding spending by 3.6%, putting them 5% year-to-date; however, this is directly correlated with the increased health care activity and recent state of health care plan uncertainty.

Saying goodbye

The board unanimously accepted the retirement notices of two non-certified teachers as well as three certified teachers and accepted the resignation of two certified teachers.

Educators reported that they offered a retirement incentive package to 11 teachers in the last week, and also received 20 different inquiries regarding the package in the same time frame.