Kingston teachers' union absorbs health insurance price hike
KINGSTON, N.Y. — The Kingston Teachers Federation saved the school district about $1.1 million in the 2012-13 budget by agreeing to absorb health insurance cost increases for most district employees for the next school year, according to Superintendent Paul Padalino.
District Treasurer Gary Tomczyk said the Dutchess Health Education Consortium, to which the district’s contribution to the union-run health insurance program is tied, raised its premiums for active employees and that he would have contested the change in an effort to lower the cost if the union’s Kingston Trust Fund had not volunteered to absorb the increase.
Padalino said the contribution was helpful in closing a multimillion-dollar budget gap and saved about a dozen positions in a budget that cut 90 jobs, including 30 teachers.
The giveback marks the third year in a row the Kingston Teachers Federation has allowed the district to keep flat its quarterly contribution to the nonprofit trust fund that provides health and dental coverage to the district’s approximately 700 teachers and 300 support staff members.
The school district’s budgeted health insurance cost for 2012-13 is up $578,884 to a total $25.7 million; and total employee benefits, a category that includes health insurance and items like retirement and Social Security costs, are up $465,708.
The district’s proposed budget for 2012-13 is $143 million.
Between 2010-11 and 2011-12, district health insurance costs jumped $1.31 million, and total employee benefits grew by $4.5 million.
The size of the Kingston Trust Fund’s reserves in prior years has been the subject of some controversy in the district, particularly when the fund’s assets jumped from $16.74 million in September 2008 to $19.65 million in September 2009. But the most recent available tax filings show that by September 2010, the reserves had shrunk to $16.42 million.
The Mid-Hudson School Study Council’s most recent financial study ranked the Kingston school district fourth among 59 in the region in per-pupil spending for hospital, medical and dental insurance at $3,051.81 per student for the 2009-10 school year, before the concessions.
When Kingston school district officials were crafting the 2010-11 budget, the union agreed to absorb a 13.4 percent health insurance hike permanently and give back another 6 percent of the cost for the year. The ensuing contract agreement also increased the salaries of Kingston Teachers Federation members 4.47 percent over two years. Continued...
A year later, union leaders agreed to let the district keep its health insurance contribution flat when the expected increase in costs was 3 percent.
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