By Kay S. PedrottiEmployees of the Lamar County school system who participate in the system’s benefits plan can expect improvements in coverage starting July 1 for the next school year and beyond.After a presentation by financial advisor Mark Matulia, the board of education voted unanimously to increase the $15,000 life insurance option to $25,000; to offer long-term disability instead of short-term coverage and to subsidize dental coverage. Matulia stressed the importance of good benefits in ‘attracting and keeping quality employees.’The life insurance amount had been reduced in 2009 because of cutbacks statewide.Director of finance Kristen Albritton said later that the subsidy will give Matulia, the board and employees more options. Matulia said more companies will be available for negotiations to find the best and most cost-efficient school system coverage because of the dental subsidy. He hopes to find a company that will offer a comprehensive plan and a less expensive plan covering mostly preventive care.Plans that are called ‘volunteer,’ when the participant pays the whole premium, are not offered by as many companies as are subsidized plans, Matulia said. ‘It gives me more companies to look at on your behalf to come up with a recommendation,’ he added.Superintendent Dr. Jute Wilson said, ‘It’s hard to attract and retain quality employees in this competitive atmosphere without a really good benefit package. I’m glad to have Mark working with us.’Several board members commented that Matulia has been a trustworthy benefits advisor for the system for 20 years. Matulia said costs for the additional plans would be about $70,000: $10,000 for life insurance, $40,000 for long-term disability and $20,000 for dental. So the board can continue to know what dental plan costs are, he said, the subsidy will be a stated amount per participant instead of a percentage of premium.Wilson added the system expects to cover the costs with restoration of austerity cuts and other anticipated income.In other action, the board: ’¢ Recognized a number of students for academic and athletic achievements (see photos).’¢ Approved hiring substitute nurses to cover days when the fulltime school nurses are absent, at a cost of about $70 per day. ’¢ Chose Ron Smith, chairman, and Sue O’Neal as delegate and alternate to the Georgia School Board Association 2015 meeting in Savannah. ’¢ Approved a resolution to adopt the ‘IE2’ operational system devised by the state. Wilson said the Investing in Education Excellence operational system (O.C.G.A. 20-2-80) provides flexibility from certain State Board of Education rules in return for greater accountability in terms of student achievement. ’¢ Approved a number of personnel changes.
School employees get better benefits package
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