QUINCY — The Quincy School Board purchased land to alleviate parking issues at the old K&L Arena at a special meeting Tuesday morning and approved a new health insurance provider for employees.
The move to a fully insured Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan, approved by a 7-0 vote, takes effect Nov. 1 and follows the board’s decision earlier this month to step down from its current supplier, the Egyptian Trust.
“Our main goal was to have the least number of transitions and changes for our staff, because we know that’s a very important part of their benefits,” said Board Chair Shelley Arns.
“Our employees are going to be able to keep the exact plan they have with Blue Cross Blue Shield, their premium and their deductible,” she said. “They will receive new cards.”
School board member Jim Whitfield said staff members should have “an almost seamless transition” to the new plan.
Ensuring that whatever employees had spent on their deductibles was transferred to a new plan was one of the keys as the board reviewed bids from four providers, reviewing costs, coverage and dates of renewal. The lowest bidder, and the one that won, came from the Teachers Coalition on Health.
The new plan will have a January 1 renewal date, the same as the previous insurance, with renewal rates available around September 1.
Quincy Public Schools business operations chief Ryan Whicker said the quick turnaround to come up with a new plan limited the district’s options to Blue Cross Blue Shield “off the shelf” products.
“Circumstances have forced us to act a little faster than we would have liked, but it looks like it will benefit employees by at least maintaining the benefits they currently enjoy and keeping the district fiscally responsible with taxpayers’ money. for the premium amount we pay. for health insurance,” Whicker said. “Our premiums will be the same as what we were paying in the Egyptian Trust.”
Optional dental and vision insurance will continue to be available at a slight change in cost.
“Voluntary benefits won’t change providers,” Whicker said.
Finalizing the insurance change well before the end of October, when the Egyptian Trust’s exit becomes official, “certainly brings relief to the board and, more importantly, to our insured family members”, Arns said. “We wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing, that we were accountable to our employees and our taxpayers.”
The school board agreed to join the trust in August 2016, with the change taking effect in October of that year, but recent financial instability at the trust triggered QPS’s departure.
The trust, with a self-insurance model offering a Blue Cross plan, covers 700 QPS employees.
“I don’t know if this is the end of our discussion on health insurance. That’s what our plan is for now,” Arns said. “As we move forward this year, we want to know how things are progressing.”
In the future, the school district may consider another self-insurance program.
“It seems to be the most profitable,” Arns said. “I just don’t know why past efforts haven’t worked.”
Also on Tuesday, council members agreed to purchase Lot 6 of the Wismann Ridge Business Park for $133,500 from Mississippi Valley Development Inc.
The 2.67-acre lot at 1620 N. 43rd sits on the northwest side of the former K&L Arena, adjacent to the property QPS purchased in June to house its transportation, maintenance and technology departments. some information.
While the old arena building is large enough to accommodate all three departments, the existing parking area would be tight with buses, maintenance vehicles, a fuel depot, and staff parking.
“It will help alleviate the parking problem that we will have once we move the three departments there,” Arns said. “There is no street parking and we wanted to be a good neighbor for business.”
The purchase price for the land will come from the district operations and maintenance fund.
“We think that’s going to be the best way forward, consolidating all of these departments to be more efficient with the building and hopefully ultimately providing cost savings to the district. “, Arns said.
Council members also approved the sale of surplus property left at the arena, which the district does not need, to a buyer for $100,000. The buyer will remove the property, including a basketball goal and football fields, at no cost to the school district.