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Menahga teachers, board agree to skip health insurance bids

Education Minnesota Menahga agreed to skip the Health Insurance Transparency Act process in 2023 to ensure premiums will not rise more than 9%.

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Menahga School
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise
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The Menahga School Board signed a memorandum of understanding with Education Minnesota Menahga (EMM), the teachers’ union, to forgo the Health Insurance Transparency Act (HITA) bid process.

The board discussed the matter at their Tuesday, Jan. 17 meeting.

Superintendent Jay Kjos explained that health insurance is due in July.

“When we met with our current provider, they shared our usage as a group versus how much we pay for premiums. We used more dollars than we paid in premiums, so if we go to HITA bid, that means we break the contract with our current provider who has a 9% (rate) cap,” Kjos said.

Because usage is “so hot,” Kjos said premiums would likely rise if the district went out to bid.

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EMM agreed to skip the HITA process in 2023 to ensure premiums will not rise more than 9%.

The memorandum agrees to keep the current health insurance carrier, Sourcewell. The agreement is effective July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025. If both parties agree it’s in their best interest, the memo states that bidding may resume in 2024.

Kjos also clarified that a resolution “directing the administration to make reductions in programs and positions, if needed,” is an annual protocol. “It doesn’t mean we are predicting cuts.”

Board members Dave Treinen and Julia Kicker were absent.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Approved Brianne Helminen as a paraprofessional, beginning Jan. 17.
  • Accepted letters of resignation from Kayla Polasek, technology integrationist, effective Jan. 16 and Shyla Netland, paraprofessional, effective Jan. 25.
  • Approved assignments for the following extra-curricular coach/advisors: Luke Davidson and Todd Frie, co-assistant varsity wrestling and co-junior high wrestling and Austin Rife, junior high wrestling.
  • Approved lane changes for Cory Kapphahn, Todd Frie and Holly Westad.
  • Learned that the Menahga Student Council Student Council will host Snow Week during the week of Feb. 13. They decided to forgo the Snow Week Court and include grades 7 and 8 in festivities on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
  • Removed “shaming” language from its school meal policy, as directed by the Minnesota School Board Association. The following was deleted: “The school district may provide an alternate meal that meets federal and state requirements to a student who does not have sufficient funds in the student’s account or cannot pay cash for a meal. The school district will accommodate special dietary needs with respect to alternate meals.” The Menahga School District currently does not charge for breakfast or lunch.

The next regular school board meeting is 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at the media center.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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