The Eau Claire school board may vote Monday on cuts and changes to retiree benefits, aimed at reducing a projected deficit in this year’s district budget.
The board is slated to discuss nine recommendations from a recently-formed panel that in 2018 and 2019 examined possible changes to other post-employment benefits, or OPEBs.
The potential cuts to OPEBs would target a $3.1 million deficit in the district’s 2018-19 budget and about $125 million in unfunded liabilities as of December.
The district also expects retiree health and dental payouts to rise in 2019 and 2020, driving staff-related costs higher, executive director of business Abby Johnson said recently.
A majority of the district’s operating funds are allocated for staff-related costs, Johnson has said.
“Eighty percent of our operating budget is for staff-related costs, salaries, OPEB, health insurance and fringes,” Johnson said.
The OPEB committee said at a July 22 board meeting that it would support nine options.
The options were ranked in order of preference by committee members, which included salaried and hourly district staffers, Johnson said.
The committee’s top three options include:
- Shifting the deposit date of employee health reimbursement accounts, or HRAs, for estimated savings of $36,000 per year.
- Instituting an “earn your HRA” policy for all employees, not just district married couples, that would require employees to complete wellness requirements for the district to pay an HRA contribution. The measure would realistically save about $50,000 per year, Johnson said, though the district spends about $2 million in total per year on HRA contributions.
- Eliminating an automatic HRA contribution for retirees the year after retirement, for estimated savings of $150,000 per year.
The committee did not recommend cutting married couples’ health insurance benefits or stipend benefits.
The board would need a majority vote Monday to approve any of the nine options, and to decide when to implement them.
The district is slated Monday to recommend a technology refresh for iPads at fifth and sixth grades in Northstar and South middle schools.
iPads at DeLong Middle School were refreshed in 2018.
The district is also proposing refreshing one-fourth of high school Chromebook laptops each year for four years, starting in the 2019-2020 school year.
The board would vote on the measure at an Aug. 19 meeting if it follows the district’s recommendation.
The board on Monday is also slated to discuss the 2019-20 costs of a teacher mentor program and the results of a spring 2018 family engagement survey.
A closed session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday; the board will meet in open session at 7 p.m. in Board Room 137 of the District Administration Building, 500 Main St.
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