Board Briefs: Oct. 7, 2019

The District 58 Board of Education held a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 7 2019. View the agenda and presentation links. Click here to listen to audio. Highlights from the meeting include:

Health and Wellness Update
Assistant Superintendent for Business Todd Drafall joined Group Alternatives President Mike Baker to update the Board of Education on District 58’s health and wellness initiatives and insurance benefits. Group Alternatives is District 58’s insurance benefits consulting company.

District 58 is a self-insured health benefits provider, which means the District pays out-of-pocket for health care expenses as they are received. In recent years, health care spending has outpaced the District’s medical budget. The District formed the Health and Wellness Committee last year to address this issue. The committee comprises representatives from all three District 58 unions, as well as administrators and a Board member liaison. 

Thanks to this committee’s work, the District greatly increased its employee Teladoc use, introduced a new employee HSA plan, contracted with a new pharmacy benefit provider, and offered a new voluntary life insurance option. These improvements all helped District 58 save money without reducing employee benefits. The committee also recommended the District sync its benefit rate adjustments with open enrollment (January instead of July) to help employees make more informed benefit choices. 

Later this school year, the District will also offer employee wellness screenings and a new diabetes management program. Baker pointed out that the 2018-19 school year had a significant number of large claims, or individual claims that exceed $150,000. He stressed the importance of wellness in mitigating claims.

“Wellness isn’t going to stop large claims, but part of our goal of wellness is if we can make your membership aware of their health status, as your population ages you can prevent certain conditions from flaring up and having those large claims,” Baker said.

District 58 offers four different health insurance plans. The plans’ current rates took effect in July 2019. Based on projected health costs vs. total funding, District 58 expects to run a 6.4% (or $540,859) medical budget deficit. The Health and Wellness Committee recommended that employee health insurance rates be increased 6.4% in January 2020 to mitigate this deficit. 

School Board members noted that the District hadn’t consistently increased health insurance rates to keep up with expenses in the past, which caused its medical reserves to plummet. Board members emphasized the importance of maintaining medical reserves to ensure that the District can continue to provide its employees with quality health insurance in the future.  Several Board members said they want to follow a data-driven and consistent approach to setting health care rates each year to ensure the District’s medical reserves can grow appropriately. Board President Darren Hughes said that ultimately the Board wanted clear, consistent and data-driven health care rate recommendations from Baker and Drafall. The Board will continue this conversation and vote on 2020 calendar year employee health insurance rates at their next regular business meeting.

View the Health and Wellness presentation.

Facility Planning Community Engagement Consultant Presentations
Last August, District 58 recommended that the Board hire consultant Paul Hanley to lead the District’s facility planning community engagement. Hanley recently provided community engagement services for nearby Community High School District 99 and is already familiar with the Downers Grove community. 

Shortly after this recommendation, Hanley’s employer, George K. Baum & Company, was sold to a different company. Hanley was offered a position with the new company; however he opted not to accept this offer. Instead, Hanley decided to start a new consulting group, called Beyond Your Base, which will be a subsidiary of Wight & Company, the current architect of record for District 58.

This unexpected turn of events prompted District 58 to not sign a contract with Hanley in September as originally planned. Instead, the District asked the Board to discuss this further and give the public an opportunity to weigh in before making a final decision. During this Oct. 7 meeting, the School Board interviewed Beyond Your Base and another facility planning community consultant, Unicom ARC.

Both consultants shared their experiences and approaches to successful school district facility planning community engagement. After each presentation, Board members asked many questions, and specifically addressed whether there would be a conflict of interest with Hanley and Beyond Your Base, given District 58’s existing relationship with Wight & Company. In response, Hanley asserted that his goal is to build trust with the taxpayer and to be very transparent with all of his work. He pointed out that he outsources the polling and community meeting facilitation to third party vendors. He believes strongly that no conflict of interest exists. The District’s legal counsel has also indicated that there is no conflict of interest.

After the interviews, the School Board openly discussed their choices. They agreed that each consultant has a strong background and would do a fine job. Hanley’s previous experience working in Downers Grove and District 99 served as an advantage; however, after a long discussion, the Board decided to continue to reflect on their options and make a final decision at their next business meeting on Oct. 16.

View Beyond Your Base’s proposal.
View Unicom ARC’s proposal.

Upcoming Events:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 a.m.: Policy Committee Meeting at the ASC
  • Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.: Regular Board Meeting at Village Hall

District 58 Board of Education members are: Darren Hughes, president; Greg Harris, vice president; Kirat Doshi, Emily Hanus, Steven Olczyk, Jill Samonte and Tracy Weiner, with Dr. Kevin Russell, superintendent; and Melissa Jerves, board secretary.