SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The school district will pay higher health insurance premiums for its 750 full-time employees starting in January.
The news did not catch the district off-guard. They budgeted a double-digit increase in anticipation that premiums would go up.
But in a decision that affects districts statewide, the 25 percent increase that the School Employees’ Benefits Commission approved July 14 was more than what officials thought it would be.
“This is a kick in the pants,” said school board President Mark Gleason Tuesday.
He said the district had enjoyed a couple of years of moderate increases. This, however, was far different.
“Every year, it takes more and more away from our budget,” Gleason said.
With $112 million budget already set for fiscal 2009, the district will need to find savings or cut spending to make up the projected $400,000 difference between the budgeted rate hike versus what was approved last month.
Every year, the school budgeting in our towns is an exercise in squeezing blood from a stone, a desperate struggle over this cut or that. How timely that this year, healthcare is taking an extra bite.