The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 24, 2013

School teams focus on insurance

BY CAROL ROEHM
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Insurance is the latest obstacle in Danville School District 118 contract negotiations.

District 118’s negotiating teams and the Danville Education Association met with a federal mediator Thursday for the second time this week.

“We had a good negotiation session today,” Superintendent Mark Denman said. “I felt some progress was made.

“We gave them a counterproposal package for the teachers and teaching assistants, which they’re considering,” he said of the DEA.

Although the second half of the day was set aside to negotiate the secretaries’ and learning resource clerks’ contract, Denman said both sides “mutually agreed” not to discuss that contract until the insurance issue is resolved.

“Both teams agreed that insurance proposals are a major stumbling block to settling the contract,” DEA President Robin Twidwell said. “In order to help resolve this issue, a subcommittee was formed to study cost-saving strategies.

“They are asking us to make significant contributions to our insurance,” she said.

“They made all these significant changes without any input from our side.” Twidwell added. “You can’t fundamentally change our insurance without having a task force look at all of our options and see what cost-saving options might be available.”

The joint insurance task force — which is comprised of representatives from both the district and the DEA — will meet Wednesday.

Denman said the task force will explore “if there is anything we can do to help with the cost of the insurance.

“Insurance plays a major part in both contracts,” he said.

Work on the insurance issue needs to be completed by Feb. 25, which is when both negotiating teams are scheduled to meet again with the federal mediator.

According to a presentation given during a DEA membership meeting Dec. 18, the district has proposed changes to employee insurance that would require staff to contribute $300 a month for a single PPO coverage, $600 a month for an employee with one dependent, $650 a month for an employee and two dependents and $675 a month for an employee and three or more dependents.

For HMO insurance coverage, single employees would have to contribute $100 a month, $400 a month for an employee with one dependent, $425 a month for an employee and two dependents and $450 a month for an employee and three or more dependents.

The DEA claims the impact of the insurance changes amounts to a $3,600 a year contribution from employees for PPO single coverage, which works out to be between a 5 percent and 25 percent decrease in pay for staff members, depending on job title and coverage option.

The DEA points out that if 607 of its members contribute toward their insurance, it would amount to $2.07 million in savings to the district, but the union questions what that money would be used for.