Board of Ed deals with insurance pool collapse

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Facing assessment to help pay off debt

By Geoff Hamill

A non-profit insurance pool for Kentucky schools has collapsed, leaving school districts around the state - including Washington County – to deal with the aftermath. The Kentucky School Board Insurance Trust (KSBIT) was created in 1978 to provide insurance to school districts through self-insured pools providing workers compensation, property and liability coverage. In January, KSBIT officials announced the dissolution of the trust and reported that the trust had accumulated a deficit of 50 to 60 million dollars. Any school district with a KSBIT policy, during years the trust lost money, are subject to an assessment to pay off the deficit. The assessment will be based upon a school district’s duration with KSBIT, amount of premiums paid and the number of claims attributable to the district. KSBIT is expected to inform school districts how much they have to pay sometime in the next few months. During Monday evening’s Washington County Board of Education meeting, the board dealt with two KSBIT collapse issues. First, the board considered two options for Worker’s Compensation coverage. A policy with Kentucky Employers Mutual Insurance would cost the district $64,508, along with possible additional premium payments, depending on losses. A policy with Brickstreet Mutual Insurance would cost the board $69,569, but with no additional premiums. Board member Pat Clements recommended Brickstreet. “I have made a living taking risks, but I don’t like doing so with school board money,” he said. “I do personally prefer the not-assessable policy, where we have no chance of facing what we now face with the KSBIT fiasco. The board agreed with Clements and voted 4-0 to insure with Brickstreet. Board member Nora Hatton was not present. Second, the board responded to a KSBIT request for a vote on two options how to proceed with the deficit assessment. The first option was to conduct a runoff of claims with an experienced administrator for KSBIT that would continue making claims payments. The second option was a novation transaction in which a highly-rated reinsurer would assume all KSBIT liabilities for a set amount and continue making claims payments. Board members stated the advantages of certainty with the reinsurer option and approved a vote for the novation transaction. Board financial officer Judy Spalding said it was likely the Kentucky Insurance Commission would make the decision for KSBIT. “I still think the insurance commission is going to make the decision anyway,” she said. In other insurance matters, not related to KSBIT, the board considered what type of student accident insurance to provide at the schools. The law does not require the school district to provide any student accident insurance. Kentucky law requires only that all athletes have a minimum of $25,000 insurance, whether it comes from parents or the school district. The board considered options ranging from parent-provided voluntary student accident insurance to a $52,353 policy that would provide full coverage, with just a $1,000 limit on physical therapy. The board selected a mid-range policy, which covers all students, at a cost of $37,240. The policy includes a detailed schedule of benefits, which reduces the policy cost. Commercial insurance was also on the board’s agenda Monday evening. The board approved a policy with Liberty Mutual covering general liability, crime, legal and fleet insurance at a cost of $95, 782. The board declined optional terrorism insurance, with a price tag of $2,714. In personnel matters, the board approved renewal of Superintendent Robin Cochran’s employment contract. Cochran will receive a salary of $109,249. The board approved addition of several middle school assistant coach positions, at a stipend of $424. The new positions are two girls’ basketball coaches; two boys’ basketball coaches; one district baseball coach; one district softball coach and one district volleyball coach. Board Chairman Patsy Lester recognized Kathy Mattingly, Pat Lee Osborne, Betty Blandford, Cathy Burns, Jill Clements, Jackie Mattingly, Charlotte Settles and Sharon Gabhart on their retirements. Lester announced Candace Kimball and Jordan Simpson as recipients of the Larry Graves Memorial Scholarship, and Mary Lauren Murphy as the recipient of the Gerkins Scholarship. For a full list of personnel actions approved by the board, see thespringfieldsun.com. The next meeting of the Washington County Board of Education is scheduled for July 22 at 7 p.m.