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Colfax school board joins health insurance cooperative

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Cooperatives have provided electrical and telephone service in rural areas for decades, and in keeping with the rural tradition of cooperatives, the Colfax school district has joined a health insurance purchasing cooperative.

The Northwest Public Entities Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative is the largest cooperative in public education in Wisconsin with between 19 and 21 school districts, said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator, at the Colfax Board of Education’s March 19 meeting.

“This is a great opportunity (for Colfax). Other cooperatives are half this size,” he said.

A health insurance purchasing cooperative allows a school district to leverage dollars and to have the power of numbers in membership, Yingst said.

Six entities have bid on providing insurance through the cooperative, he said, nothing some schools that wanted to get into the cooperative were unable to do so.

Instead of one company bidding on health insurance for 70 employees when Colfax is operating alone, multiple companies bid on providing insurance for 4,500 people in the cooperative, Yingst said.

Any school district that joins the cooperative is not obligated to remain and can leave the cooperative, he said.

Jodi Kiekhafer, school board member, wondered if the same medical providers would be available for school district staff as are available under the current health insurance plan.

The health care providers will be the same locally as they are now, Yingst said.

The Colfax Board of Education unanimously approved a motion to join the Northwest Public Entities Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative.

School board president Todd Kragness was absent from the meeting.

In Kragness’s absence, school board vice-president Ken Neuburg chaired the meeting.

In addition to Kiekhafer, Kragness and Neuburg, school board members include Christie Hill, Andrew De Moe, Kyle Knutson and Ken Bjork.

Other business

In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:

• Learned the annual staff recognition banquet will be at the Whitetail Golf Course on Wednesday, May 30.

• Approved the Early College Credit Program applications for the fall 2018-2019 semester. Early College Credit is for university classes, and a separate program, Start College Now, is for technical college programs. All together, five students have applied — four for the Chippewa Valley Technical college and one for UW-Eau Claire, said John Dachel, high school principal. Early College Credit and Start College Now replace the Youth Options program.

• Approved the spring co-curricular coaching contracts — baseball: Kirk Secraw (head coach); Michael Hodel (junior varsity coach); softball: John Dickinsen (head coach); Rich Meredith (junior varsity); boys golf: Mike Dombrowski (head coach); middle school track: Tim Devine and Kara Buchner; high school girls’ and boys’ track: Ryan Krall (head coach); Tina Rothbauer (assistant coach); Dannielle Dachel (assistant coach); Kelsey Daines (assistant coach); Joe Doucette/Chuck Brown (assistant coach).

• Accepted the resignation of John Dickinsen as the junior varsity boys basketball coach.

• Approved the CESA 10 shared services contract for the Chippewa Area Distance Education Network Consortium (CADENC) and E-Rate support and planning in the amount of $18,078.

• Approved the CESA 11 shared services contract. Dollar amounts that were available added up to $30,000, although some additional services will be calculated on an individual district basis and some services will be calculated per eligible student. The fee for Title I administration and program services are calculated on 4 percent of the Title I allocation

• Accepted the retirement request from Tim Devine, middle school English teacher who has also coached football, basketball and track. Devine has taught in the Colfax school district for 34 years.

• Accepted the retirement request from James Keltner, who works as a bus driver in the school district.