The Purdy R-2 Board of Education voted to change its healthcare network to save money. The action was taken at the board's July meeting.
Carol Morgan, from Jenkins and Associates and a past assistant superintendent from the Republic School District, was present at the meeting along with Michael Daugherty, a Mercy Health Plan employee. Morgan reviewed how the Purdy district was facing a nearly 35 percent increase in premiums under its Anthem healthcare plan. Jenkins brings bids annually to arrange coverage.
Superintendent Jerry Lingo said the district had been satisfied with the service from Anthem, but the cost was becoming prohibitive. Morgan indicated Purdy had two difficult years with illness. For every dollar the district spent, Anthem spent $1.67 and responded with the higher premium.
Morgan proposed switching Purdy to coverage with Jenkins in hopes of getting the district into one of the Southwest Missouri Educator's Groups (SMEG) healthcare consortiums that Jenkins represents. The switch will place Purdy with the Mercy network, which provided the best bid.
Mercy was also recently purchased by the Coventry system, a deal that would take 90 to 160 days to finalize. Morgan said Jenkins had four physicians with the Mercy system and two with Anthem, so after the Coventry deal concludes, some of the Purdy customers could end up with the same doctor as before the network switch.
The participating provider option (PPO) had the most benefits of all the plans Jenkins could access. Mercy would send staff to the Purdy district prior to classes starting and explain the plan features.
"All our other groups are happy with Mercy," Morgan said. "In the long haul of life, the switch will be good for you. All rates are high. Mercy is figuring the worst is past."
Board members voted to make the change to get the best insurance at the lowest price. Lingo planned to detail how the network switch would impact employees in an annual letter going out at the end of July.
The board also voted to keep its 403B cafeteria medical plan with the Forest T. Jones company, who has handled the service for the past eight years.
Board members voted to revise the 2009-10 budget to meet actual spending and income. Lingo was pleased to report the district closed the year on the positive side, though it was perhaps the closest balance on record. The school year ended with total income of $6,184,273 and spending of $6,175,287.
For the coming year, the board voted to keep meal prices at the same rate. Breakfast will be $1. Lunch will be $1.25 for kindergarten through fifth grade and $1.50 for sixthe through 12th grade. Adults will pay $1.25 for breakfast and $2 for lunch.
The food service finished the year without a loss, the superintendent said. With the cost of supplies rising, Lingo planned to speak with the food service director about cooking more basic meals to cut the cost of prepared food.
Parents as Teachers
Cuts in state funding have reduced support for the Parents as Teachers program. Lingo said the state has cut its payment maximum from $24,220 in the 2009-10 year to $8,715. The number of families that will have to be screened to meet the maximum was also significantly reduced.
Lingo recommended switching the program back to an independent contractor basis, as it had been a few years ago. The independent contractor arrangement would guarantee the district would lose no money.
Coordinator Angie Swadley was willing to continue under the arrangement, though she would lose all her employee benefits. Lingo said Swadley would concentrate on the high needs cases and the state would raise her fee for the cases she handled. The board agreed to continue the program.
The annual property tax hearing was scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 16 prior to the monthly board meeting. A reception for new district employees will be held at 5:30 p.m.
Out-of-district tuition was set at $4,000 a year, no change from the previous year. No students are currently paying the fee, Lingo said.