As many of you already know, insurance premiums are set to rise for the 2017-2018 school year.
While these rates are subject to bargaining, it doesn’t look like things will change based on the tentative budget passed by the School Board at tonight’s special meeting.
Per our contract, the district contributes $5,169.80 per employee that takes our insurance ($258.49 per pay period for 20 pay periods). This used to cover the entire cost of the Employee Basic HMO plan. USED TO. The district has not increased their contribution in over 5 years, but premiums have steadily increased.
While insurance premiums are an issue nationwide, a look at the contributions of our surrounding counties is very enlightening.
Duval County pays $7,450 - 100% of the Employee Basic HMO plan. Alachua County pays $6,109 - again, 100% of the Employee Basic HMO plan. They offer two plans with different deductibles: $750 and $1,500. Ours is currently $6,350. St. Johns County pays $5,987.85 per employee, $11,934.47 for employee + spouse, and $14,461.85 for employee + family.
The district constantly tells us how tight the budget is, but tonight they passed on an opportunity to raise over $10 million for our schools. The following are slides from tonight’s presentation.
As property values increase, counties often “roll-back” their millage rates so that property owners do not see an increase in the tax bill (explained in more detail below). Clay County has rolled-back the millage levy from 6.762 to 6.438. Had they kept the rate the same, property owners would have seen an increase in $32.40 per $100,000 of property value. A small individual price to pay to raise a large sum of money for our school system. Everyone wants great schools, but it seems no one wants to pay for them. In Republican-dominated Clay County, to support anything that even smells like a tax increase is political suicide. (For now, let’s set aside the fact that keeping the millage rate the same is not really a tax rate increase. Your property value increases, you pay more in taxes.)
While the district doesn’t have control over whether the county uses the old rate or decides to roll-back, they do have the ability to ask for a discretionary increase of up to 1 mil. As the chart below shows, from 2000-2013, the district exercise this right in order to raise much needed funds.
An increase of 1 mill would raise over $10 million for our schools. 1 mill would mean an extra $100 per year per $100,000 of property value. It is a small price to pay for our children. We are 1 week away from pre-planning and the district still has over 50 instructional jobs to fill. Potential candidates see our salary schedule and benefits package and run the other way.
The School Board will vote on this budget on September 7. Please consider contacting your School Board members and attending this Thursday’s School Board meeting to express your concerns.
Laura Mayberry, CCEA Director - District 2, Bargaining Team Co-Chair