Pembine school board OKs insurance changes, holds closed session on administrative contracts

PEMBINE, Wis. — Insurance rates for Beecher-Dunbar-Pembine School District employees will increase by about 4.5 percent over the previous year in a plan the school board approved Wednesday.

The rate is 3 percent lower than the original proposal, which called for a 7.5 percent increase.

The district made several changes to bring the cost down. A $25 co-pay for doctor visits remains, but specialist visits will require a $50 co-pay. Emergency room visits will remain at $100.

The district discontinued a gift card program because only 3 percent of district employees were utilizing the cards.

Dental coverage will raise the maximum amount to $1,500 rather than $1,000. But two exams and two X-rays will be included at no cost to the employee and no cost to the district; these will not be not charged to the maximum covered amount.

The district also will offer vision insurance this year, paid by the district.

Pembine is part of a consortium with the other districts in CESA 8, which contracts with M3 Insurance. The consortium helps keep insurance rates down and offers more options, said Andy Space, the district’s interim superintendent.

Earlier in the meeting, the board went into closed session on administrative contracts for about 45 minutes, then emerged to approve what was discussed. No explanation was provided on the issue or matter behind the vote or what type of action was being taken.

In other business, the board:

— Hired Melissa Hirte as a special education department secretary.

— Approved the wrestling co-op with Niagara, Florence and the Goodman-Armstrong Creek School Districts. This will be Pembine’s first year in the co-op.

— Took no action after a second closed session on administrative contracts and the 2019-20 staffing update.

— Approved an open enrollment out so a student can attend virtual school.

— Heard a letter written by James Brent Griffin, who received 257 votes as a write-in candidate to incumbent winner Ryan Berger’s 339. Griffin told the board he hoped the fact he received 43 percent of the vote as a write-in got their attention. He said district residents have a lot of fear about voicing their opinions, worried the board will retaliate. He also believes the board’s new workshop meetings are a positive step in making board decisions more open to the public.

Marguerite Lanthier can be reached at 906-774-3500, ext. 42, or