School board to seek city help on healthcare cost overruns

School Supt. Freeman Burr
School Supt. Freeman Burr

The Shelton Board of Education (BOE) expects to ask the city for money to help with its self-insured healthcare account, which is anticipated to run a deficit for the fiscal year that is about to end.

The BOE healthcare insurance account now is $278,600 over budget, and that amount could increase even more between now and the end of fiscal year 2013-14 on June 30.

In a motion at a BOE meeting on Wednesday night, the BOE unanimously instructed School Supt. Freeman Burr to formally inform the Board of Aldermen about the shortfall.

The BOE wants to use $212,000 in its medical and dental reserve account to help plug the gap, which requires approval by the aldermen. The reserve account was set up a few years ago when the BOE first switched to a self-insured healthcare approach and ran a surplus in the account.

The BOE expects to ask the Board of Aldermen for supplemental funding to close the rest of the gap, which puts the overall school budget in deficit for the current fiscal year.

Been discussing the issue

The BOE has been discussing the possibility of having a year-end deficit in the self-insured healthcare account for the past few months, but the extent of the problem has been uncertain because healthcare expenditures can fluctuate during the course of a fiscal year.

The BOE also has been dealing with much higher than anticipated costs for energy — both for the propane used in the new school buses and for heating and cooling at school buildings. The district operates eight schools plus a central office.