Gilford schools get $476k from Local Government Center settlement

GILFORD — The Gilford School District has received a refund if almost a half-million dollars from the Local Government Center, representing excess premiums the district and its employees paid for health insurance from 2009 to 2011, the School Board was told last night.
Assistant Superintendent Scott Isabelle told the board that the district received a check for $476,524 last week.
The refund was issued under the terms of a state Bureau of Securities Regulations' order that the LGC repay $53.4 million to towns and school districts overcharged by the municipal organization which operates self-funded risk pools for liability claims and health care coverage.
Isabelle said a portion of the refund — $23,819 — would be rebated to those current and retired school staff members who were paying into the LGC health insurance program during the 2009-11 timeframe. He said $452,708 of the refund would go into the district's general fund.
Eligible district employees and retirees will receive their refunds in mid-October. Individual refunds would amount to between $30 and $100, Isabelle said. He said the figure represented between 4 percent and 12 percent of the amount the employees paid toward their health insurance.
Retirees will get their refunds in a special check. Current employees will have their refund included in their regular pay check. Isabelle told the board that the district decided to disburse the refund in this way after conferring with its auditors. Isabelle was not immediately able to say exactly how many current and former district employees would be getting refunds.
The Bureau of Securities Regulation found the LGC violated state law by improperly collecting money and retaining unnecessary surplus funds. The organization also improperly transferred assets, subsidizing one insurance pool (worker's compensation) at the expense of the others, the bureau said.
The organization believes the large reserves kept rates stable for members and reduced long-term costs. Critics, however, said the surplus should have been returned to its members rather that used for other purposes, such as subsidizing a new workers' compensation insurance program.
In other business, Superintendent Kent Hemingway reported that student enrollment at the start of the school year was 1,200. He said the number represented a drop of 11 students from last year. But the drop was smaller than expected. Hemingway said school officials had earlier thought the decline would be between 15 to 20 students.
"Overall our enrollment is slowly decreasing," he said.
NOTES: The School Board approved a three-day trip to Quebec City for high school students. French teacher Louise Jagusch said the February trip would give the students both linguistic and cultural experience. The trip will take place Feb. 7-9, during Quebec City's annual Winter Carnival, and would involve the students missing one day of class. .  . . . . High School Principal Peter Sawyer told the board he wants to mandate community service for students. He said that he plans to bring a proposal to the board for their approval. At present Sawyer is envisioning requiring students to perform six hours of community service each year. He said the service could be performed through existing activities such as scouting, church groups, or civic groups. But he said that the school would need to connect students not currently involved in such activities with other community service opportunities. . . . . . Hemingway said the district received very high marks during a recent audit of its special education programs. "We really had a perfect score," he said. . . . . . The board accepted the resignation of long-time School District treasurer Paul Simoneau and appointed Susan Jenson to serve as interim treasurer. Simoneau, who has been treasurer for 16 years, recently moved from Gilford. Jenson will serve as interim treasurer until town elections next March.