AMA to change employee insurance options

ALPENA – The Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District Board of Education approved a recommendation to have the administration enter into a letter of understanding with representatives of their professional staff union about a cash option available instead of health insurance for the staff.

“We just were brainstorming on ways we could reduce our cost, and help the employees at the same time,” Superintendent Brian Wilmot said. “What I like about this is it does both those things. It helps employees elect not to take our insurance by giving them more money, and saves us in premium costs. Any time we can find a win-win, we want to pursue that.”

The current contract allows $225 for those electing a cash option. If six or more professional staff members elect to take the cash option, the monthly payment to those members would be $400. The AMA determined that if six or more members choose cash, then those employees would have a higher monthly payment and the district would save money in health insurance premium costs. The savings in premiums would more than pay for the increased employee payment.

The board also authorized the distribution of reimbursement funds totaling $1,144,117 in Act 18 payments to the local school districts. These funds are disbursed on an “added cost” basis – the costs remaining after foundation grants, state and federal aid and other funding have been deducted.

“We’re going to give away approximately $1.4 million to local schools,” Wilmot said. “That’s always a nice thing to be able to support them.”

Included in the total are Medicaid repayments for schools that participated in the health services program with the state and federal government. The repayment for program participation came to a total of $239,990. An administrative outreach program was included in the total funds for further support of special education. This year’s distribution of $13,702 will be made to the participating districts.

“They’ve already spent the money. It’s a reimbursement of costs they incurred through the special education program,” Wilmot said. “Atlanta didn’t participate in the Medicaid portion, so they don’t benefit from that part of the payout, but they’ll still get the payout from our LEAs and local tax dollars.”

In other business:

  • in addition to hiring Mary Christensen-Cooper as a math consultant, the board hired Sarah Prevo as an early childhood specialist. Prevo will oversee the Great Start Readiness Program preschool classrooms in Alpena, Alcona, and Montmorency counties and the Great Parents Great Start program
  • seven AMA ESD staff members are in the spotlight for their contributions this month including Diane Bromund, Georgeann MacKinnon, Bev Maher, Hilary Robinette, Beth Skiba, Julie Wells, and Lorell Whitscell
  • Sue Grulke presented the board with a special education report on 74 students attending the summer Supporting Teachers and Readers Successfully program July 9-Aug. 13.
  • fourty-six fifth grade students at Besser Elementary helped the Pied Piper early childhood special education classroom at Besser walk to the bus with the Bus Buddies program this year, donating part of their lunch recess to help the students. The board viewed a slideshow highlighting the program with fifth-graders narrating how much they enjoyed helping the Pied Piper students and what they learned through the program

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.