Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
Washington schools consider insurance upgrade
WASHINGTON — Administrators in the Washington school district may soon have insurance that extends to their family members. The push from some education officials comes as the schools seek to fill open principal positions starting next fall.
While district staff already have benefit packages, Superintendent Willie Stone said those were individual plans, rather than family ones. He said making the change for administrative personnel could improve the principal positions’ applicant pools.
While at least 40 candidates have already applied for the open administrative spots, Stone said less than five had experience. He blamed the district’s benefits package for the hiring disadvantage, despite finding “diamonds in the rough” in the past.
“We’ve had a really hard time getting people with experience to apply for our positions,” Stone said at a school board meeting last week. “I know that we’ve lost candidates because we don’t have insurance. And I’m not saying they’re our best candidates, but if they were our best candidates, it seems a little crazy to lose them for that.”
Stone said Washington schools were an anomaly for not providing family coverage to the decision-making staff, despite having similar salaries to nearby districts of about the same size.
“Most of the districts around us, most of the districts, honestly, throughout the state, offer family insurance for administrators,” he said. “If you’re an administrator that wants to get to a bigger district, most of them, unless they have a tie to Washington, aren’t going to look at Washington, because they’re going to lose out on that.”
Stone said he didn’t have a specific cost determined yet, but that family insurance would cost an extra $15,000 per staff member, on average. With the list of administrators including all four principals, the dean of students, superintendent, CFO, and athletic, curriculum and special education directors, the math works out to roughly $150,000.
The school board plans to hold a special meeting where Stone said he’d present more precise cost projections and plans to pay for them, although no date has been announced.
Classroom teachers in the district would not enjoy the same benefit expansion, according to Stone, who said the lack thereof was a state norm for educators themselves. Still, he said the teachers’ union had expressed support for the proposal.
“If we have to do it to get good people, do it to get good people,” Stone said. “I think we’ve been fortunate to have good people coming in, but I really think it limits our field of people who apply.”