Local schools moving away from traditional employee health insurance

The Huntington County Community Schools are moving away from traditional employee health insurance in favor of health savings accounts.

Doug McElhaney, president of the corporation's employee benefit trust, explained to school board members at their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26, that this will be the last year that employees can choose a traditional health insurance plan. The employees also have the option of choosing one of two health savings account (HSA) plans for 2013, he said. The traditional insurance plan will no longer be an option after 2013, he said.

Insurance benefits will remain unchanged, McElhaney said.

The two HSA plans differ in deductible amounts - although both have higher deductibles than the traditional plan - and premium payments. An HSA is a savings account owned by the employee, who can deposit pre-tax dollars into the account. HSA funds may be used only for medical expenses. If an employee leaves the school corporation, the account will still be the property of that person.

Employees are being offered incentives to move to one of the HSA plans this year.

A wellness coach was hired by the school corporation last spring and offered several exercise classes over the summer, McElhaney said.

Employees can take a health risk assessment and work with the wellness coach to meet goals for improving their health, he explained. They can earn cash bonuses - up to $575 for a single person and $1,150 for a family - deposited in their HSAs by completing the assessment and working toward and achieving goals.

Employees with HSAs will also be able to take advantage of low cost visits to a walk-in medical clinic operated by Parkview Huntington Hospital, McElhaney said.

In other business, Huntington North High School Principal Chad Daugherty updated the board on several changes at the high school.

Only five doors are open for students to enter the building in the mornings, he said, and those students are now required to congregate in supervised areas until classes start. Two new outdoor cameras have been added to monitor parking lots, he said.

Daugherty said HNHS staff members are handing out Viking Integrity Tickets to students exhibiting positive behavior, and the ticket holders are entered into drawings for cookies, pizza and other prizes. The athletic department has a similar program, he said.
Daugherty said the school has experienced 62 software issues and 45 breaks with the iPads that were issued to students this fall. Two iPads have been reported lost or stolen, he said.

The school corporation has blocked many social networking sites so students can't access them while at school he said, and students will attend a program by Huntington County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Richison on "digital choices and consequences."

Chuck Grable, assistant superintendent for instruction, says teachers throughout the high school and middle schools have already begin integrating the iPads into their classroom instruction, and software compatibility issues are being resolved. Teachers are being asked to present one lesson a week in a digital format, he said.
Student e-mail accounts should be active in mid-October, Grable said, allowing teachers to e-mail their students with homework assignments and help.

The corporation offered workshops to parents at various times to explain the possibilities and responsibilities that come with the iPad, Grable said. While parents who attended those sessions said they appreciated them, Grable said a low percentage of parents took advantage of the sessions.

The board accepted the resignations of Sara Okuly, recess supervisor at Flint Springs; Shera Shaw, general education paraprofessional at Salamonie; and Juanita Wright, food service at Northwest.

Okuly was rehired as a general education paraprofessional at Flint Springs and Shaw was rehired as a Title I resource teacher at Flint Springs.

Other new employees approved by the board are Annette Adamson, food service pool, Riverview; Shirley Gardner, food service pool, Huntington North; Tina Hockenberry, lead cook at Huntington North; Ivy Kellogg, food service pool at Crestview; Lyndsay Reeves, cashier/prep at Crestview; D. Renee Scheer, food service pool at Roanoke; Janel Smelser, general education paraprofess-ion al at Flint Springs; Lesley Wilson, food service pool at Crestview; and Lori Ingle, administrative assistant.

In sports, Steve Anderson was named fifth grade girls' basketball coach at Roanoke; Kenlin Kropf was named fifth grade boys' basketball coach at Roanoke; and Larry Eckert was named assistant middle school wrestling coach.