MEREDITH — The Inter-Lakes School District has received a refund in excess of $337,000 from the Local Government Center representing excess premiums the district paid for health insurance for its employees for 2010 and 2011, the School Board was told last night.
Assistant Superintendent Trish Temperino said that $337,318.66 was paid to the district in the form of a credit toward its $1.3 million health insurance bill for the current school year. An additional $49,792.71 will be refunded to current and former teachers and other district employees for what they paid toward the cost of their insurance.
Temperino said the amount of the refunds to employees and retiree would vary. Eligible employees still working in the Inter-Lakes District will receive their refunds in this week's pay check. Retirees and other former employees will receive their refund in a separate check.
The amount of the credit/refund is much larger than the district had originally expected. Temperino told the board that the district anticipated a credit of $94,633 for 2011 insurance premiums and had calculated that when preparing the current budget. However, in June the district was informed that there would be a credit — or so-called premium holiday — for 2010 insurance premiums as well, resulting in an additional credit to the district of $240,264.39.
The credit and refunds are being 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 nonprofit organization, which operates self-funded risk pools for health care coverage and workers compensation insurance.
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 (workers' compensation) at the expense of another (health), the bureau said, in order to try and build a new business line.
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 funding the start-up of a workers' compensation program.
NOTES: The board set Saturday, June 14, 2014 as the date for the Inter-Lakes High School graduation. The date coincides with the beginning of Motorcycle Week, but the traffic and noise are expected to be much less than the following Saturday when Bike Week crowds typically peak. If snowstorms delay the end of the school year, high school Principal Patti Kennelly recommended the graduation take place on Tuesday, June 17. The graduation ceremonies will take place in Prescott Park, as was the case this year. . . . . . The board approved an online program be used to teach Spanish at Sandwich Central School. Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond said that the school has had problems in recruiting and keeping qualified teachers for the part-time position. She said that school Principal John Hansen hopes to hire a part-time classroom assistant, fluent in Spanish, who would work with the students and augment the on-line instruction, which is provided by Middlebury College in Vermont. . . . . . Ormond told the board the district's official enrollment as of Oct. 1 was 1,097 students. She expected that enrollment would remain fairly constant for the next five years. The Inter-Lakes District has 189 fewer students than 10 years ago, Ormond noted. . . . . . The board set March 5 as the date for the annual School District meeting.