School Board OKs health insurance rates

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County Public Schools employees can expect no increase in their insurance coverage later this year.

The School Board approved the insurance rates for health, dental and vision coverage for the 2017-2018 year at its meeting Wednesday. The division expects no increases in rates over the current plan. Dental-only plans will decrease slightly. Eligible employees who enroll or re-enroll in the high-deductible health plan during the open enrollment period in August can receive a $500 contribution from the division to their health savings account.

The division offers three plans through Local Choice Blue Cross Blue Shield, Director of Personnel George Smith said. Insurance rates increased once in the past four years, Smith said. The division saw a large increase last year. Coverage next year will include some new amenities, Smith said.

Providers calculate rates using the division’s trend and experience or how the employees use the coverage over time, Smith explained. The division is included in a larger pool of about 7,000 users through Local Choice, which helps keep rates down, Smith said.

Approximately 510 of the division’s employees or 67 to 68 percent participate in the insurance benefit, Smith said. That number continues to grow likely because the School Board allocated more funding to health insurance for employees, Smith said.

Also at the meeting, the School Board:
• Approved the hiring of a part-time secretary in Food and Nutrition Services at $16 per hour to cover the absence of the the administrative assistant who processes free- and reduced-lunch applications while the assistant is on leave for at least six weeks in August and September.
• Approved a request to allow the bookkeeper for the new middle school to work part-time in June at a cost not to exceed $1,000. The bookkeeper was supposed to start work at the new school July 3 but the extra time will allow the employee to train with staff from other secondary schools.
• Approved a request by Front Royal for an easement to access utilities for the new middle school
• Approved spending $87,600 to buy almost 6,300 library books for the new middle school from Follett, the firm that provided the low bid for the purchase
• Approved the spending of $492,650 to buy technology equipment for the 2017-2018 school year. The division plans to provide Chromebooks for all middle-school students. The purchase includes printers, monitors and personal computers for Skyline Middle School. The funding for these products will come out of the new middle school construction budget and the fiscal 2017 technology budget. The board also approved spending $26,461 to buy cases for the Chromebooks provided to middle-school students and teachers.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or