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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Recap of the latest Board of Education meeting

  • Due to a higher than anticipated enrollment, the USD 443 budget for 2012-2013 was amended and approved at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting. Those changes, which amount to approximately $970,000 in increased funding, do not have any impact on local taxes; however, debt refinancing the board also approved will save district taxpayers approximately $300,000.
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  • Due to a higher than anticipated enrollment, the USD 443 budget for 2012-2013 was amended and approved at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.  Those changes, which amount to approximately $970,000 in increased funding, do not have any impact on local taxes; however, debt refinancing the board also approved will save district taxpayers approximately $300,000.
    A resolution was approved in April authorizing the offering for sale of general obligation refunding bonds for debt refinancing.  On Monday, bids were received for that refinancing and the winning bid results in a total savings that exceeds $300,000 for the district.    
    It wasn’t all good news for the board, however.  Bonnie Austin, Health Benefit Plan Chairperson, reported that in the first six months of the last benefit year, USD 443 had more than $3 million in healthcare claims, an increase of 58 percent over the same time period during the previous year.
    “It’s been a very, very tough start to this year,” she said.  “We have a crisis.”
    The district currently provides a partially self-funded plan and according to Austin, is looking at an almost 17 percent hike in that funding that could be met through raising premiums or changing plan benefits.  She said the committee is considering the recommendation of a combination of both with an increase in prescription copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.  However, Austin said the committee isn’t sure if even those changes will make up for the rising costs but members are struggling with several dilemmas in coming up with possible solutions.
    “Do you offer a really low plan with high deductibles and fewer benefits for lower premium costs; because if you do, participants assume a huge risk,” she said.  “Or do you maintain an attractive benefit plan but raise premiums substantially to where they’re almost too much for many of our employees?  How do you find that balance of caring for everyone in our group but not bankrupting them?”
    The committee has requested bids from the state health insurance plan that’s available for public employees, as well as from the four major insurance providers.  Those bids should be available by June 1 and will be presented to the board at the June meeting.  Austin was present Monday to update the board on the committee’s findings and progress and hopes to have a recommendation to the board at the July meeting.
    “We’re not really hopeful that those bids will come in very low.  We know from past experience that they will probably be pretty high but we felt we owed it to you as a board and to our plan participants to see what our options are,” Austin said.
    Page 2 of 2 - District health benefits are available to all full-time employees of USD 443.
    Parents will see a slight increase in meal prices next year in order for the district to comply with the Federal Equity School Pricing regulations.  The increase is, on average, 10 cents per meal for both breakfast and lunch rates.  At the elementary level, there are 21 school districts in the area that charge more for meals than Dodge City Public Schools.  Only one charges less.  At the high school level, USD 443 is in the middle of the pack, with 10 districts charging more and 11 charging less.
    Board president Lisa Killion said she’d had a lot of people approach her saying they’d seen a lot of food thrown away.  Nutrition Supervisor Kathy Konrade said the district wasn’t seeing any additional waste but regulations require fruits and vegetables to be placed on each student’s tray.
    Another area where parents will see a slight increase when enrollment rolls around is with student fees.  The board approved the reimplementation of instructional materials fees for students in May 2009.  Based on the anticipated addition of iPad technology for the second semester, the administration recommended an increase in those fees and after much discussion, new fees of $25 for K-5, $35 for grades 6-8, and $45 for high school students were approved.
    However, those fees, as well as payments on school meals, will be much easier for parents to make beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.  Over the past several years, an increasing number of parents have asked to make payments to their child’s meal account online.  The board approved the purchase of Skyward Fee Management software, including installation, training and support, at a cost not to exceed $24,000.  The system allows parents to pay instructional materials fees online, reserve and purchase tickets to athletic events and activities, purchase school yearbooks, make payments to meal accounts and purchase spirit wear.
    The last regularly-scheduled board meeting for the 2012-2013 school year is June 10 in the Austen Board Room of the Administration Building.

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