Premium Holiday Postponed
The whole premium holiday system is the result of a judge's ruling our insurance provider LGC/Health Trust overcharged customers, including Oyster River and its staff, in the 2000s (NPR). I recall LGC has to return over $50 million, including maybe $2M to ORCSD. The plan is to dole it out over a few years. However, according to Administrator Caswell, Health Trust just announced that their reserves were low and they would not be offering premium holiday payouts next year.
The premium holiday system creates a kind of slush fund for the district. The district budgets for the full maximum guaranteed premium, conservatively assuming the premium holiday will not appear. Since the payout is in the form of a discount, the district can then spend the money saved on other things and still stay within the total amount appropriated by the voters, which they are legally required to do. If they had to pay the full premium and were handed back a big check for the payout, they couldn't spend it, at least not beyond the voter-approved appropriation.
The administration and school board have been trying to shoehorn the new field into the annual budget. They were counting on the premium holidays continuing and a more modest health insurance increase, so this $1M hole in the budget that appeared over the last two meetings puts the field plan in jeopardy. As I type this the five hour budget meeting is going on, where a new budget (including the administration's recommendation for the field project) will be revealed. [11/6 update: Nope, apparently the field plan is still up in the air.]
Assistant Superintendent Search Progressing
Superintendent Morse reports that the district received two dozen applications for the Assistant Superintendent position. A screening committee including five administrators whittled it down to 6 candidates to be interviewed. Interviews are expected to be completed on 11/16 and after a review of references a candidate will be recommended to the board at the 12/2 meeting, two weeks later than originally scheduled.
ORESPA Contract Approved
Nation's Report Card Out, Smarter Balanced Results Expected Soon
NH vs USA
click to enlarge
On a related note, the 2015 NEAP nationwide assessment reports, often called the nation's report card, are out. Only 4th and 8th grade math and reading have been updated. NH did great, ranking 3rd for both subjects in 4th grade and 2nd for both in 8th grade out of all 50 states (plus DC and DoD schools). So we're one of the best districts in one of the best states.
In these four rankings, Massachusetts bested us 3 times, the DoD schools twice and Minnesota once. I don't recall seeing the DoD schools in other studies -- if you exclude them we move up a notch twice, in particular to first in the country in 2015 8th grade reading. The district has already spun some of these ranks as "tied for first."
I pulled a couple of charts off the site, which I edited by adding the 2015 NH ranks among other things. New Hampshire followed the national trend of a dropoff in math from 2013, and we had an especially sharp decline in 4th grade math. In reading 4th grade stayed flat in line with the country, but 8th grade bucked the trend, increasing where the nation declined.
It was a pretty short meeting, done by 8:20 or so including a 20 minute interval for non-public and non-meetings, so I'm going to wrap this up here.