Prepared Notes for Board Meeting – WESP Contract

November 22, 2010 

Marc A. Schare –  

614 791-0067

marc9@aol.com

 

 

A few months ago, the board and the administration received the results of the performance audit conducted by the State of Ohio that benchmarked aspects of our district against peers selected by the auditor. At the time, every one of us said that the report would be used in decision making going forward.  The reopener for salaries and benefits represents our first opportunity to act on some of these recommendations.

 

Quoting from the report’s recommendation 2.8:

 

WCSD should attempt, through negotiations, to limit future base salary increases for positions where salary schedules exceed the regional peer average. Maintaining salary schedules that are comparable to the regional peer average will help the District ensure it is providing adequate compensation to remain competitive when attracting new employees without placing unnecessary strain on its financial condition.

 

It then went on to list those positions which were above the peer average. With regard to salary, my disappointment is that there was no attempt made to align salaries with these recommendations. Still, I believe most Worthington taxpayers would be OK with the obviously nominal base increase of 1.95% and  it should be noted that the audit also states that of the 12 classified positions they looked at, only 5 were above the peer average and some were significantly below the peer average.

 

The performance report also dinged us for health care, and it is in this area where I have a problem with this new agreement. The audit report indicates that we spend around 15% more than the benchmark which is defined as the school employee health care board average. Indeed, taking a look at Page 10 of the SEHCB 2010 report, we see that the taxpayer contribution to our High Deducible plan is fully 39.5% higher than the SEHCB High Deductible Plan median, and that was before the 13% increase in premiums that the district approved a few weeks ago. Quoting again from the performance audit recommendation 2.7:

 

WCSD should attempt to reduce its health care expenditures for single and family coverage to a level closer to the industry benchmarks of the School Employee Health Care Board (SEHCB). When evaluating the options available, the District should consider negotiating higher employee premium contributions and/or reducing the District’s annual contributions to the health savings account (HSA).

 

Unfortunately, with the continuation of the 91% taxpayer share for health care premiums,  coupled with the large premium increase this year and the anticipated even larger premium increases next year, this agreement does not move us meaningfully towards the recommendations of the state auditor. In fact, even the reduction in the HSA contribution, while certainly welcome,  leaves our district slightly above the median for such contributions according to the SEHCB.

 

That said, it is also true that this could be considered the third year of a three year agreement that saw 2.85% increases for certified staff and that in 2008, the WESP might have received the same deal but for a technical certification issue. I get that, but both sides agreed to the re-opener not knowing what the economic conditions would be at the time and the last two years have been tough on everyone. In this climate, given what we now have from the auditor, given the fiscal reality waiting for us in the next state budget cycle and given forecasted double digit percent premium increases throughout each year of the forecast, in my opinion, we needed to do a little better than this agreement which seeks to preserve, more or less, the status quo. For these reasons, I’ll be reluctantly voting “no” on this contract.