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Oak Hill punts on benefits

BY Lucas Robinson - lrobinson@chronicle-tribune.com

MIER — Oak Hill United School Corporation board members selected to postpone further discussion on changes to corporation health benefits.

On Monday night, members of Oak Hill’s school board deliberated among themselves on possible changes to the corporation-provided health plans of school administrators.

The current plan bills the school corporation for health insurance premiums of nine administrators as long as those administrators pay $1 for the plan. With the rising costs of health insurance, the school board members recognized the impracticality of continuing such an arrangement.

School board member Dr. Lori Goss-Reaves referred to the issue as the “toughest topic” she has had to address during her years on the board.

“Insurance costs are astronomical,” she said.

Numerous policy proposals were floated Monday night.

One proposal, involving a 15 percent or $3,600 billing to administrator health plans, was suggested repeatedly by member William Lehman. Other board members were skeptical of pushing for such a drastic hike for administrators all at once.

“That’s a slap in the face to veteran administrators who have done a great job,” said board member Dana Biggs.

Superintendent Joel Martin, who had initially raised the issue of health benefits to the school board, also suggested plans of 3 percent increases or a lump sum payment of $1,000.

Of the decision to deliberate the issue at a later school board, Martin said “we need to think about what we want to do.”

A motion to table the issue for later debate was proposed by Lehman and supported unanimously by the school board.

Prior to debating health insurance, the board also discussed and eventually approved funds for a corporation-wide improvement of projector systems.

According to Oak Hill Technology Coordinator Brandt Lynch, 91 out 130 projector installations throughout the schools were in violation of fire codes.

To remedy the issue, Brandt lobbied the school board to accept the common school loan offered by the state of $171,616 to go towards an external bid for the project of $221,416. To cover the differences in costs, Martin suggested the corporation could potentially use up to $35,000 in rebates given to Converse and Sweetster from prior common school loans.

Prior to the school board’s approval of the project, Brandt commented that he had been hired by Martin to “make decisions that look at the future,” and that the project will “pay off through the end...as far as five, 10, 15 years.”

Oak Hill United School Corporations next school board meeting will take place on Monday, April 23, in the adminstrative building at 6:30 p.m.