Archive for the ‘Insurance’ Category

281 Not Too Happy With DFL Legislature

April 19, 2013

The Sun Post has an interesting article written by the district’s finance director Jeff Priess.

Robbinsdale Area Schools has worked hard over the past several years under difficult economic and state funding conditions to ensure students receive an excellent education. We are proud of our student and staff accomplishments at local, state and national levels.

yes we already know 281 is the best at everything.

However, this hard work is in jeopardy and could hinge on several key decisions by legislators over the next few weeks.

The work of our district is to meet each student where they are academically and provide the knowledge and skills they need to pursue whatever form of post-secondary education they choose. Over the past five years, the Minnesota legislature has made decisions that froze the funding formula for three years (2008-2011), and provided $50 increases for two years (2011-2013), not nearly enough to even cover inflationary costs.

Ahh, what did we pass in 2008?

Our school board and administration have made difficult decisions to reallocate resources to both invest in new programs and stabilize school finances.

To make investments in new programs that ensure our students are competitive in the 21st century required rigorous assessment of opportunities and choices about the level of resources to be allocated between educational and operational programs. These efforts included efforts to rein in health care costs and transportation costs, while still maintaining an excellent level of service to all.

Due to those efforts, we were able to open the School of Engineering and Arts (SEA) this past fall, and will open a STEM magnet program at Robbinsdale Middle School in the fall of 2013.

We have piloted hybrid classes that combine online and classroom learning, and integrated technology more fully into instruction and learning. We initiated extension math and reading classes at the middle schools in order to help students who needed more instruction in those areas.

Can this district do anymore chest beating?

Currently Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget provides school districts with a 1 percent funding increase for next year. The Governor’s proposal provides school districts additional funds for special education to help defray every district’s “cross subsidy” – the amount that a district has to take out of its general fund to cover costs for mandated special education.

(For our district, that’s approximately $9.5 million of regular education dollars for special education.)

However, there are two proposed legislative areas that will actually set our district back.

The first is the Public Employees Insurance Program (PEIP), which allows employees to become part of a statewide insurance program that, sometimes, helps to keep costs down. Districts can choose to enter the PEIP program even without the legislation.  While PEIP is good for some districts, for others, it is not.

If Robbinsdale Area Schools is required to participate in PEIP, we estimate that we will incur an additional $3 million in insurance premiums, it will result in a reduction of employees’ network of physician choice, and the district will be forced to close the in-house NeoPath Clinic that is saving the district more $100,000 annually.

The second concerns integration revenue, which is in jeopardy. Our district receives approximately $2 million annually, providing funds for additional teachers, tutors and help for families. Because the 30 percent integration levy was not reinstated in the Senate bill, 30 percent of the integration revenue for our district would be eliminated.

The precious DFL wants to get rid of integration aid?

Our school board has worked hard to be excellent financial stewards. The state must be a partner in these efforts. I urge you to contact your legislators and tell them to ensure the House PEIP bill (HF573) is amended to be voluntary and the 30 percent integration levy is reinstated in the Senate bill.

Sun Post Story

2007 Lowlights and Highlights for District 281

January 3, 2008

The MN Sun-Post showcased “The best and worst of times for District 281” in 2007. It’s a lengthy read, but well worth the time. Lowlights (quite plentiful) are set in bold for emphasis. The referendum defeat in our opinion is a highlight, not a disappointment as the Sun-Post wrote. Left out are lockdowns at Cooper from fights in December, and countless other items that didn’t make it on the news.


– Superintendent Stan Mack announced a reorganization of leadership in the special education department, following scrutiny by the Minnesota Department of Education for having what the state claimed is a disproportionate number of complaints from District 281 parents about how children with special needs are treated.

– A list of $4.5 million in proposed budget cuts for 2007-08 was approved Jan. 8 by the District 281 School Board.

– More than 700 District 281 employees signed up for an exercise-walking program.

– A bomb threat cancelled classes for students at the Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion program/Robbinsdale Middle School on Jan. 8.

– A Robbinsdale Area Schools transfer bus that has been operating since 1982 will begin phasing out in 2007-08, school officials said.


– Sandburg Middle School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program was one of four out of 2,000 IB programs in more than 120 countries chosen for in-person documentation by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education Project Zero.

– District 281’s enrollment declined 1.3 percent, or 177 students, from January 2006 to January 2007.

– Teach for America, a national corps of recent college grads who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools, indicated interest in District 281.

– Plymouth Middle School sixth-graders will be reassigned to Olson School in Golden Valley for 2007-08, while their school is remodeled, officials announced.

– The Minnesota Department of Education withdrew its threat to withhold $526,638 in special education funding from the Robbinsdale School District because the district took steps to implement corrective action.

– A Bullying Policy Task Force in District 281 began working on administrative procedures to address bullying in the schools.


District 281 Schools’ Self-Funded Insurance Program Causes Big Hike in Premiums

December 1, 2007

This plan was supposed to “combat skyrocketing health care costs,” according to the MN Sun-Post 11/29/07 edition:

In an attempt to combat skyrocketing health-care costs, the District 281 School Board voted in October 2006 to implement self-funded insurance beginning in 2007.

After one year, however, the future of the self-funded insurance program appears to be in question, as employees complaining about 125-percent increases in health care premiums, and at least one employee union threatening to strike over the issue.