After lengthy debate, Trenton Board of Education chooses health insurance carrier

Trenton R-9 School District

The Trenton School Board selected a health insurance carrier for next school year at a special meeting Monday.

The board approved board member David Whitaker’s amended motion to select United Healthcare for coverage with a cap of $602 per month per employee. Board member Marcie Cutsinger was the only no vote and said she was worried about the buy-up plan cost. The United Healthcare plan is $601 per month per employee, and a buy-up plan would cost an employee an extra $93.57 per month.

Whitaker’s original motion was to select United Healthcare with a cap at $600meaning an employee would have paid $1. There were two other motions regarding health insurance before the final approval.

Board member Dorothy Taul moved to select United Healthcare, pay the full cost for staff, and table a decision on a cap until next month. The motion received three votes in favor and four against. The votes in favor came from board members Brandon Gibler, Cliff Roeder, and Taul. Board member Corey Leeper moved to select National General and pay the full price of $511.24 per month per employee. That motion died for lack of a second.

A third health insurance option came from Blue Cross Blue Shield for a cost of $658.34 per employee per month, which would have been an increase of about 15% from this school year.

Before voting, Trenton R-9’s health insurance broker Justin Mitchell and two representatives from National General, Brian Alexander and Dave Gillis, spoke. They also answered questions from the board as well as Trenton Middle School Computers teacher Charley Crimi and her husband John Crimi, who attended the meeting.

Charley Crimi said the employees got a survey last week, and the employees she spoke with had never heard of National General. Superintendent Dan Wiebers reported the survey showed employees preferred staying with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Ninety percent responded that they would stay with the district’s insurance if a cap was put in place and the district would not cover the full cost of insurance for each employee.

John Crimi said he felt like health insurance was suddenly an issue when the salary and welfare committee had been told it was not an issue earlier and noted no one likes surprises.

Cutsinger said the board was surprised by the increase for Blue Cross Blue Shield’s premiums when only 82% was used this school year. She would like to see the salary and welfare board discuss health insurance next year. She thought employees might have responded differently to the survey if they had known more about United Healthcare and National General.

Franklin said the board was not trying to keep the health insurance issue from employees and was trying to be transparent. He noted one reason a vote on health insurance was not taken at Tuesday’s regular meeting was because it was “more than a nickel and dime issue”, and it was about people.

Trenton Middle and High School Assistant Principal Kasey Bailey attended the meeting and said some employees told him they would not mind if the district did not pay for employee health insurance if more money was put into their salaries. Leeper and Whitaker attended the special meeting via phone call.

In a closed session, the Trenton R-9 Board of Education accepted two letters of resignation. One was from THS American Government teacher Lysander Overstreet, and the other was from Rissler Elementary School kindergarten teacher Julienne Graupman.

The board hired Rachel Ferry for THS Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America sponsor.