YOUNGSTOWN SCHOOLS Fiscal panel OKs contract

By Denise Dick


The current contract between the city school district and its teachers union was approved by the state fiscal commission before going to the school board for approval.

That deal includes a health-insurance plan that the district’s Academic Distress Commission now says is too expensive.

The board of education met in special session Monday to discuss the distress commission’s latest edict on spending.

The commission last week passed a resolution to take over budget authority for the school district and to approve all expenditures exceeding $5,000 and all contracts.

At the root of the change is the discovery by the commission-appointed fiscal monitor that the district has been underfunding its employee health insurance since 2008. The district is self-insured for health care.

It would take $1.1 million to begin to get the fund back on track to meet anticipated claims, commission members said last week.

Atty. Ted Roberts, who represents the district, pointed out Monday that the teachers’ contract approved in 2010 included an increase in employees’ health-care contribution.

“It was all approved by the fiscal commission before you were permitted to say yes or no,” Roberts said.

At last week’s meeting, the fiscal monitor said the health-care plan was the richest he’s seen. The district was directed to prepare a study comparing its coverage with other Ohio districts.

Lock P. Beachum Sr., school board president, questions whether the academic commission was aware that the fiscal commission, dissolved in 2011, had approved the pact with the health-care provisions.

“I feel very disappointed,” he said. “It’s over something approved by the former fiscal commission.”

Roberts said the employee contribution, which is a percentage of the teacher’s salary, amounts to about 7 percent of the premium rate.

Across Mahoning County school districts, teachers pay between 5 percent and 10 percent, he said.

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