An audit of the Lawrence school district's fringe benefits program appears to have been productive, providing the district with some options for lowering premiums and broadening coverage, an administrator and a teacher said this morning.
"It's looking real good at this stage," said Bill Wilson, the district's director of human resources. "I feel that we're going to be able to increase benefits and-or reduce premium costs either to the school board or to the employee."
The district in February hired CPI Qualified Planning Consultants, Great Bend, to conduct an audit of the district's fringe benefits. The district contracted to pay $10,000 for the audit.
Wilson said CPI sought bids from various insurance companies to see what packages they could offer. CPI just recently presented those bids to the district, and Thursday the district's fringe benefit committee discussed the bids.
The committee, which includes both administrators and teachers, is awaiting a bid from one other company. Wilson said the committee probably would develop a fringe benefits recommendation next week. That recommendation then would be put on the table during Lawrence teacher negotiations on May 18.
Doran Chaput, a teacher at Hillcrest School and a member of the fringe benefits committee, said that arranging the audit was a good move on the part of the district.
"I think it's going to be money well-spent," Chaput said.
The district recently has had to choose between higher premiums or more restricted coverage.
The district presently provides health, dental and life insurance through a self-funded program with Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Wilson said that last year Blue Cross and Blue Shield suggested that the district would have to raise premium rates by 26 percent to keep up with health costs.
To avoid that increase, the district this school year switched to the Blue Select Plan, which changes employees' insurance coverage somewhat. For example, under the new plan, school employees now have to designate a primary-care physician.