A switch of health care plans for Kings Park teachers could net a savings of $450,000 according to district superintendent Susan Agruso who cited the recent findings of a consultant that was hired by the district to review the plans.
The change, which requires consent from the CSEA and the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association, would need to take place by mid-September. As of Tuesday evening’s board meeting, the unions had not given consent.
“The school has not gotten written consent from the unions to switch,” said Agruso in a phone conversation. “It is basically dead right now.” Agruso said if the switch does not happen this year she will try again for next year.
Jim Pappas, president of the KPCTA said that the decision is made by the executive board and the leadership of the union.
“That will happen in the beginning of school next week. It is not a one person decision,” said Pappas.
The proposal, which came out in June would be a change of insurance carriers from the current plan with Empire to one with CIGNA.
Pappas, says there are serious concerns that the board is not recognizing with the new plan including rate increases and that the switch was not as "cut and dry" as Agruso was presenting it.
“I contacted the references they gave us and they gave me some scary facts. Two out of seven have told us that the premiums (with CIGNA) have gone up so much that they had to redesign the benefits package which would be a decrease in benefits to us and a third said their premiums have gone up 25 percent this year," said Pappas.
He added that not all things that he found out about CIGNA were bad but that what he did find out were enough to give him some concern.
In an effort to find out more about the CIGNA plan, Pappas said he tried to contact other districts that use them and said he found no other district on Long Island that use them.
"There are no school districts on Long Island that use CIGNA so they want us to be the ground breakers also which is a problem to me," said Pappas. "Not that you never want to be a groundbreaker but there are problems probably that are inherent in a switch that others could have ironed out but they haven't and therefore we would be the one learning the painful way possibly."
Agruso said she believed the benefits were better with the CIGNA plan and that Empire’s rates go up regardless of claims.
"CIGNA bases rates on claims. Empire’s rates went up 14 percent last year and will go up 14 percent this year, which will cost the district $1 million," said Agruso.
“In theory those (rates) could go down. Not so with Empire,” she said.
According to Agruso, out of the $450,000 that would be saved, $350,000 would go back to the district to hire teachers.
Residents at Tuesday evening’s board meeting spoke about their concerns saying the board should be outraged that the change of insurance has not happened.
“You should be berserk over this,” said resident Jerry Fitzpatrick to the board.
Agruso, along with board of education president William Motherway said at the meeting that they were disappointed that no change has taken place but would keep working at it.
Board trustee Steve Weber addressed some of the concerns at the Tuesday evening meeting.
“If you interpret our actions as not caring you are very wrong,” said Weber.