Saturday, July 3, 2010

Time To Put the 800lb Gorilla on a Diet?

Since none of the school board members want to talk about the 800 lb gorilla in the room , except of course to mention that no one is talking about it, allow us.

One of the things that constantly has us scratching our heads is that members of the public can take the time to analyze publicly available data with which to evaluate how our budget masters are performing. Consider health and dental insurance premiums. We know that state employees pay between 6 and 10% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. We also know(fact, folks) that state government employees have historically been afforded pretty nice benefits to make up for the gap in income between state jobs and similar jobs in the private sector. board member and Finance Committee chair Jim McCourt is tired of hearing about state employees. So let's give him something different to hear. SP-EYE reviewed employee contracts from 8 different school districts similar in size to Sun Prairie. We're still searching for those from the other 12 districts similar in size). A little Sunshine Review kudos for Sun Prairie and these 8 school districts that make their employee contracts available on their websites (as it should be, folks). Note: state employee contracts are available on the Office of State Employee Relations website.

Herewith is the comparison of what Sun Prairie Teachers pay for their benefits relative to what the other 8 districts pay. We did the best we could to "normalize" contracts to Sun Prairie as a baseline, and have annotated the data as needed.

  • Only Middleton-Cross Plains employees pay less of a share for Health Insurance than Sun Prairie employees.
  • It seems that the going rate is for employees to pay-on average- 5% of the cost of their health insurance premiums. Sun Prairie is well below that. In fact--in the current contract--employees pay a fixed fee...which only means that the percentage share that employees pay will continue to decrease.
  • Dental Insurance benefits remain a force to be reckoned with. For a family plan, these cost nearly 25% of what health insurance premiums are.
  • Note that in their last contracts, the state reduce dental benefits--available only through HMO plans--to annual dental exams and minor fillings.

Dear school board...
As you get to thinking about raises for Administrators, Admin Support, and Local 60, you should really require a higher pay-in for benefits. Oh wait...except for Local 60. They are already being beaten like a red-headed stepchild by paying 9% for health insurance and 14.5% for dental!