Colfax school district health insurance premiums to increase by 9 percent
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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Health insurance premiums for the Colfax school district with Security Health Plan will increase by 9 percent for the 2023-2024 school year.
This is the third year of a three-year contract with Security Health Plan that was negotiated by the insurance cooperative, said William C. Yingst Jr., district administrator, at the Colfax school board’s April 24 meeting.
The Northwest Public Entities Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative is offered through Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 11 and includes 23 schools with several thousand employees all together.
During the April of 2020 school board meeting, Yingst reported in the time that Colfax had been part of the health insurance cooperative, the district had saved $840,000 on health insurance premiums.
The Board of Education approved joining the Northwest Public Entities Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative in March of 2018.
Negotiations with the cooperative for another contract will begin soon, Yingst said.
Many schools that are not part of a consortium are experiencing health insurance increases of 30 percent, he said.
The health insurance cooperative receives requests annually to join, and the school districts’ insurance histories are reviewed carefully before they are invited to join the cooperative, Yingst said.
Yingst recommended continuing with Security Health Plan as the health insurance provider for the 2023-2024 school year, and the Board of Education unanimously approved a motion to continue with Security Health Plan.
The Board of Education also approved continuing with Delta Dental as the dental insurance provider for the 2023-2024 school year at a zero increase.
Voting in favor of the motions were Todd Kragness (school board president), Jaclyn Ackerlund Ken Bjork, Andrew De Moe, Jodi Kiekhafer, Kyle Knutson and Ken Neuburg.
Prior to the regular school board business on the agenda, the Colfax Board of Education held its organizational meeting.
Incumbent school board members Jaclyn Ackerlund, Ken Bjork and Jodi Kiekhafer were sworn in to serve another term on the school board.
Ackerlund, Bjork and Kiekhafer were re-elected to the Board of Education in the April 4 election with the top three vote totals. Denise Solberg also was on the April 4 ballot.
Todd Kragness was once again elected by the board to serve as president of the school board, and Ken Neuburg was elected for another term as vice-president.
Andrew De Moe was again elected by the board to serve as clerk of the school board, and Kyle Knutson was elected again to serve as treasurer.
The Colfax Messenger was designated as the school district’s official newspaper.
The Board of Education approved holding monthly meetings on the third Monday of every month.
Wipfli LLC was approved as the school district’s auditor, and Weld Riley was approved as the school district’s legal firm.
Jaclyn Ackerlund was once again approved as the representative on the CESA 11 Board of Directors.
Neuburg was again approved as the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) representative.
The Colfax Board of Education received a visit from the Colfax High School Science Olympiad Team at the April 24 meeting.
The team competed at the state Science Olympiad competition March 31 and April 1 at UW-Milwaukee.
Nine team members qualified for state competition by earning nine medals at the Science Olympiad regional competition at Menomonie, said Kyle Easter, CHS Science Olympiad coach. This was Easter’s first year of teaching science at Colfax, and as it turns out, his only year of teaching at Colfax since the Board of Education accepted his resignation during a closed session following the regular school board meeting.
The students grew together as a team and as friends, Easter said.
Other students are becoming interested in Science Olympiad, and Colfax High School students have been expressing their support for the Science Olympiad team, he said.
The Colfax Science Olympiad Team also earned the Team Spirit Award.
Students on the Science Olympiad team that went to the state competition included Braden Kiekhafer, David Lyrek, Mark Sonnentag, Levi Becker, Ben Bailey, Grace Burgraff and Amanda Lemler.
The majority of the Colfax team were sophomores with a few juniors and seniors, Easter noted.
In other business, the Colfax Board of Education:
• Learned that Colfax High School earned a gold star for the third year in a row April 19 for the school’s work with Transcripted Credit Classes. Criteria for the gold star includes a transcript credit agreement for five or more classes (Colfax offers 39 credits), current High School Academy participation and engagement in high school relations events.
• Learned that Colfax High School seniors will complete their Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation training on May 8 and May 9. Training is conducted by the Colfax Rescue Squad and Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad.
• Learned that the Colfax Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) competed at the state STAR events April 4 to 6 at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells. Karle Roe earned a silver medal in the Culinary Competition event. Brooklyn Adank-Bruhn and Carmela Gullickson earned a silver medal in the Fashion Design competition.
• Learned that the CHS senior scholarship awards ceremony will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 3; and graduation will be Friday, May 19.
• Learned that kindergarten graduation will be Thursday, May 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the Colfax Elementary gymnasium.
• Learned that the Colfax Elementary spring concert will be Thursday, May 11, in the Colfax High School gymnasium at 1:30 p.m. The concert also will be live-streamed.
• Learned that summer swimming lessons will be June 5 through June 16; summer school will be June 19 to June 30; Summer Saunters will be July 10 to July 14.
• Learned that Amy Bowe, grade 9-12 school counselor, has been awarded a $5,000 grant through the Mayo Clinic Health System Supporting Our Schools Award.
• Learned that the Colfax school district’s workers’ compensation experience rating is 1.09. Last year in 2022 rating was .93, and in 2021, it was 1.21, Yingst said. The higher the number, the more the school district pays for workers’ compensation insurance, he said, noting that the number is difficult to control and that there always seems to be accidental “flukes” in which employees become injured.
Following a closed session, the Colfax Board of Education:
• Accepted the resignation of Kyle Easter, high school science teacher.
• Accepted the resignation of Brianna Graff, middle school special education teacher.
• Accepted the resignation of Kristi Nelson, gymnastics assistant coach.
• Approved hiring Samantha Sajdera as a teacher’s aide.
• Approved summer swimming staff as presented.
• Approved summer school staff as presented.
• Approved the compensation package as presented.