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Greenfield School District assumes raises of up to 3.16%

Number is among factors considered for next school budget

June 26, 2012

Greenfield - The Greenfield School Board has cleared raises of up to 3.16 percent for union employees in the 2012-13 budget, which is still in formative stages.

In a separate action, the board on Monday also established a trust to act as a safety net for educational programs.

Determining the right number

The 3.16 percent amount is based on the estimated consumer price index rise for the 2012-13, said Kristen Kollath, Greenfield School District business manager.

Districts can negotiate raises up to the CPI with labor unions, under the new state rules for public sector employees. But a lot of negotiations have to happen for employees to actually get that raise, she added.

"There will be much more conversation and discussion," she said after Monday's meeting.

During the meeting, board member Don Carlson spoke against a 3.16 percent raise.

"It seems awful high, compared to the private sector," he said.

Taxpayers are still losing jobs or having pay decreases, Carlson said, and they need to be taken into consideration.

Budget considerations

The issue of pay increases arose because Kollath needed some budget assumptions in developing the district's financial plans for the next school year.

Besides going along with 3.16 percent raise as a preliminary number, the School Board also gave the go-ahead to reduce health insurance premiums to reflect the fact that less funding will be needed for the district's self-funded health insurance plan next year. While teachers and administrators will still pay 10 percent of health insurance premiums, the dollar amount will likely be lower because of the funding reduction.

The district also should continue to contribute to each employee's health reimbursement account to maintain a $500 deductible for a single plan and a $1,000 deductible for a family plan, the board decided. The actual single plan deductible is $2,000 but the district will put $1,500 into each HRA to keep the out-of-pocket deductible at $500. Similarly, the family deductible is $4,000, but the district will put in $3,000 into HRAs, bringing out-of-pocket down to $1,000.

Kollath will now prepare a preliminary budget for the School Board's July 23 meeting. The budget will go to the district annual meeting in October.

Retirement trust funding

The trust that the board approved is a post-retirement trust that will catch extra dollars from the general fund at the end of each year. That money would then be used as a safety net - if the budget gets so tight that the schools would have to cut programs to have enough money to fund benefits for retirees, Kollath said.

Those retiree costs are paid for with dollars in the general or operating fund. But because that fund is capped by state revenue caps, there may come a time when the schools can't raise enough money to cover both educational and retiree expenses, Kollath said. The trust is meant to help the schools over such humps, she said.

"There's no impact on property taxes," Kollath said, noting that the board would decide each year if the trust money is to be used.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Greenfield School Board discussion of the proposed 2012-13 budget

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. July 23

WHERE: Greenfield Administration Center board room, 4850 S. 60th St.

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