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home : news : news Wednesday, November 25, 2015

5/15/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Bonds and care act impact highlight Northeast board meeting

By Andy Leheney

Authorizing an electronic bidding procedure for the sale of $7.5 million of general obligation bonds and a summary review of the impact of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act were among the highlights of the May 8 special board of education meeting of the Northeast Community School District.

Board members voted to approve a resolution for the sale of the bonds which will be used for district improvements. The board's authority to do this was recently approved by voters.

The board reviewed the electronic bidding process and also set May 22 at 9:30 a.m. in superintendent Jim Cox's office for the consideration of bids. Cox told board members following the bond sale, he will send a "solicit for deposit" letter to area banks to determine the best interest rate available.

In a related action, the board approved a "dissemination agreement" with the firm of Piper Jaffray. Under the agreement, Northeast will pay the firm $1,000 annually for the preparation of required bond documentation. Should additional bonds be needed, the $1,000 annual fee would remain unchanged.

Also highlighting the meeting was a presentation on the Affordable Care Act from Norma Stull of Mercer Insurance Group.

As explained by Stull, under the act employers will be required in 2014 to offer insurance options to all full-time employees who work 30 or more hours per week.

Although the requirement officially begins Jan. 1, 2014, a "transitional" period is in effect the first year and Northeast will actually be implementing this portion of the Affordable Care Act July 1, 2014, in conjunction with its normal insurance renewal.

Stull emphasized employers will be subject to penalties if employee contributions for health care coverage represent more than 9.5 percent of their household income.

Stull reviewed for board members income requirements for the care act, noting that individuals who earn under $16,353, and families of four with incomes under $33,746, are not subject to penalties for failing to secure insurance. However, individuals who earn up to $47,401, and families with income up to $97,813, can qualify for subsidies to assist in buying policies from public or private insurance exchanges.

Stull also shared several additional taxes on drug manufacturers and healthcare providers which will help underwrite the Affordable Care Act.

"Come Jan. 1, Northeast must offer an affordable care insurance policy for our employees who work 30 or more hours per week," said Cox.

"It must be the most affordable policy in order to avoid penalties."

Board members were provided a booklet summarizing a variety of possible insurance exchanges which may become available, along with contribution limits for individuals and families.

Computer update

Also at the meeting, an update on the district's 1:1 computer initiative was provided to board members by assistant. principal Phillip Bormann.

Bormann shared several successes of the initiative through which juniors and seniors currently have access to their own computer. According to Bormann, initiative successes include: equal access to technology; expanded access to information and resources; increased teacher technology use; increased student engagement and interest in context; greater pride and ownership of Lenovo devices; and increased productivity by students and staff.

However, Bormann shared that several challenges were encountered during the school year, including problems with connectivity and log-in issues. He described one problem regarding the processing of data as similar to "trying to send the Mississippi River through a straw."

Bormann announced that next school year freshmen and sophomores will also receive computers. He said at the conclusion of each school year computers used by seniors will be provided the following year for elementary or middle school use. He said the elementary school will receive senior computers each odd year, and middle school in even-numbered years.

Other business

In other business during its special meeting, Northeast board of education members:

•Were advised by Cox that a summary judgment motion is being prepared in connection with the Easton Valley legal dispute.

•Were informed by Cox he anticipates notifying East Central families in June regarding bus stops.

•Voted to accept the resignation of Ben Bormann, a middle school social studies teacher.

•Approved the employment of three individuals: Shana Johnson, a special education instructor; Jessica Heiar, a second grade teacher; and Abby Tarr, a reading specialist for middle school students.

•Will consider at its next meeting whether to participate in a Home School Assistance program, which is coordinated by the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.

•Approved a public hearing for the sale of obsolete equipment May 22 at 6 p.m. at the high school. The equipment for sale includes seven sewing machines in fair condition;

•Were reminded the last day for seniors will be May 17, with graduation scheduled for May 19 at 1:45 p.m. The final day for students is May 24.

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