June 29, 2012-- An agreement between the Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education and the food service employees (OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4/AFL-CIO and its Local #696) was reached. Insurance concessions made by the group will offset 94% of the pay increase over the next three years.
In May of this year, OAPSE #524 (bus drivers, mechanics, custodians and maintenance workers reached a similar agreement. Their insurance concessions offset 102% of pay increases over the next three years.
Both groups agreed to move from their previous insurance plan to the new plan which places more of the fiscal responsibility with the employee rather than with the district. The money the district will save in health care premium costs was returned to the employees in the form of a pay increase. The pay increase is something the district could not have afforded without the change to insurance.
District Treasurer Felicia Drummey explained, "We tried to illustrate that total compensation includes salaries and benefits. As a result, a dollar given to the insurance company for health care is no longer available to be given to the employee as salary because we can’t spend the same dollar twice. Both of these teams recognized that by changing their insurance plan, they would have the ability to increase their base pay."
The Terms of these agreements create a win-win situation. The members of OAPSE #696 will receive a pay increase of 2.8% for each of the next three years, and the members of OAPSE #524 will receive 2.5%, 2.5% and 2.8% increases over the next three years. The district will fund these pay increases with the savings realized by the change in insurance. This is nearly budget neutral which reinforces the district's commitment to make the 2010 operating levy last the full five years.
"We are very pleased with the outcome of these negotiations," stated Assistant Superintendent Gary Barber. "The employees in these two groups offer very valuable services, and they understand the realities of our current economy. Many of them live in our district and they know that asking our community members for additional operating money prior to expiration of the current levy would be a hardship. Instead they made concessions that are helpful to everyone."
In January of this year, the district's insurance carrier raised group health rates by 14.75% based
on the district’s historical use patterns. As insurance rates have continued to climb, the district’s insurance committee has investigated alternatives that would better manage group health costs.
Members of OAPSE #696 are moving from a zero deductible to a $200 individual and a $400 family deductible. Their total out-of-pocket maximum moves from zero to $800 for an individual and $1600 for a family. OAPSE #524 members are moving from a $100 to a $200 deductible for an individual, and from a $200 to a $400 deductible for a family. Their total out-of-pocket maximum moves from $600 to $800 for an individual and from $1200 to $1600 for a family.
Teams from Big Walnut Local School District, BWEA/OEA/NEA (teachers) and BWPSS/OEA/NEA
(support staff) are still in the negotiation process.