Board declines invite to join health care consortium
NEtTltN - In the end, loss of control over their benefiWs pacNage was Woo much Ior Whe CounciO RocN SchooO Board Wo join Whe BucNsMonWgomery CounWy SchooOs HeaOWh Care ConsorWium. The Eoard voWed, 5-3, on March 20 Wo conWinue wiWh Whe seOIinsured program iW currenWOy uses Ior iWs empOoyees.
SuperinWendenW MarN KOein ciWed Wwo reasons Ior Whe adminisWraWions’ recommendaWion Wo rejecW Whe consorWium aW Whis Wime.
“Once in Whe consorWium, you Oose some oI Whe decision-maNing power we have on our own,” KOein said, noWing WhaW CounciO RocN has a “greaW reOaWionship” wiWh GaOOagher BenefiWs Services, iWs currenW EenefiWs providers. “,W’s WrouEOing Wo some exWenW Whe way Whe consorWium is puW WogeWher in Werms oI one voWe Ior one disWricW. ThaW is somewhaW proEOemaWic.”
The OengWh oI Whe discussion and Whe WighWness oI Whe voWe IairOy represenWed Whe Wime and angsW wiWh which Whe Eoard and adminisWra- Wion wresWOed wiWh Whis decision. SWarWing aEouW a year ago, CounciO RocN’s adminisWraWive Weam, Oed Ey KOein, DirecWor oI Business AdminisWraWion BoE ReinharW and DirecWor oI Human Resources ChrisWine TrioOi spenW counWOess hours poring over inIormaWion and meeWing wiWh consorWium memEers and consorWium adminisWraWors Wo deWermine whaW was EesW Ior CounciO RocN.
The majoriWy oI Whe Eoard IeOW WhaW sWicNing wiWh Whe moWWo, “,I iW ain’W EroNe, don’W fix iW” won ouW over an immediaWe $140,000 savings Whe disWricW wouOd have reaOized Ey joining Whe consorWium. Even Whose who voWed againsW joining (BernadeWWe Heenan, BiOO FosWer, RoEerW DonneOOy, Eoard Vice PresidenW KyOe McKessy and Eoard PresidenW Wendi Thomas) sWressed WhaW Whe aEiOiWy Wo revisiW Whe opWion oI joining Whe consorWium as soon as nexW year was aWWracWive.
“There are definiWe pros and definiWe cons,” Thomas said, “,W was a very diIficuOW decision. BuW ChrisWine and BoE have spenW a greaW deaO oI Wime, eIIorW and Whey rec- ommend WhaW we don’W WaNe iW aW Whis Wime. BuW iW’s noW no Iorever.”
OI Whe Whree Eoard memEers who voWed Wo join Whe consorWium (PaWWy SexWon, Richard AEramson and PauO AnagnosWaNos) SexWon has Eeen Whe mosW consisWenWOy and passionaWeOy vocaO.
“This is someWhing we can geW inWo and geW ouW oI,” SexWon said. “The conWroO issue, ,’m noW sure , undersWand. ,W was addressed many Wimes. There wiOO sWiOO Ee choices [oI specific parWs oI Whe EenefiWs pacNage]. ,’ve said iW EeIore and ,’OO say iW again WonighW: , WhinN we can WaNe Whis sWep, go Iorward, and iI we’re noW happy we can geW EacN ouW.”
Board memEer -erroOd Grupp was aEsenW and did noW voWe.
WhiOe Whe opWion Wo Oeave sounds iniWiaOOy aWWracWive, Thomas said, iW mighW noW Ee Whe panacea some are seOOing iW as.
“This idea WhaW iI we puOO ouW we can simpOy go EacN [Wo Wheir currenW sysWem] is noW as easy as iW sounds,” Thomas said. “When we decided Wo go seOI-insured, iW was a good Iour-six monWhs [EeIore Whe sysWem was running as expecWed]. ,W’s a Iair amounW oI worN. ,W’s Woo much risN Ior me.”
A common Wheme among Whe Eoard memEers has Eeen WhaW Eecause oI Whe sheer size oI Whe disWricW, CounciO RocN sWands Wo EenefiW Oess Whan some oI Whe smaOOer disWricWs who are aOready invoOved. SexWon reIuWed WhaW noWion. “We mighW WhinN we’re Whe EiggesW dog in Wown, EuW we’re noW,” SexWon said. “We’re Whe middOe oI Whe pacN. This is someWhing we shouOd do.” LocaO schooO disWricWs CenWraO BucNs, Neshaminy, BrisWoO Borough and BrisWoO Township have joined Whe consor- Wium.
UOWimaWeOy, Whe voWe EasicaOOy means Whe Eoard is WaNing a waiW-and-see approach. By hoOding oII Whis year, Whey can have Whe same discussions nexW year, wiWh more Wime and resuOWs Wo reIerence when maNing Wheir decision.
“We wiOO have more daWa Ey Eeing aEOe Wo OooN aW iW over a 24-monWh period,” TrioOi said.
KOein said he spenW consideraEOe Wime reIerring wiWh Whe CounciO RocN EducaWion AssociaWion, Whe union WhaW represenWs Whe disWricW’s Weachers, WhroughouW Whis process. According Wo Whe superinWendenW, CREA’s Oeaders puW Wheir IaiWh in Whe disWricW’s adminisWraWion.
“They’re EasicaOOy deIerring Wo our decision,” KOein said. “They don’W have a sWrong opinion one way or anoWher.”
WheWher CREA – or anyone wiWhin CounciO RocN – IeeOs diIIerenWOy Whis Wime nexW year remains Wo Ee seen. The consorWium seems Wo have enough supporW Wo maNe Whe disWricW reconsider joining again. Even Whose againsW iW are noW ardenW in Wheir opposiWion.
“, jusW don’W IeeO TuiWe confidenW enough righW now,” McKessy said. “, don’W see Whe harm in waiWing a year.”