School Board Rejects Health Plan Amendment, Could Labor Stoppage Be Next?

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Just how much teachers would pay for one health insurance company is tearing apart the health of the school board, and the health of a bargaining process, which last month, seemed alive and well.

Tuesday night, Rockford’s school board votes 3-3 to approve a memorandum of agreement. Since there was no majority, the item failed.

The item would have reduced the Blue Cross Blue Shield premiums to that of United Health Care.

Those are the two insurance companies which will cover the teachers in the new contract.

Some board members argued reducing the Blue Cross premiums cuts out between 200 and 500 thousand dollars in savings. Those members in favor pointed out the entire contract is still expected to have a total savings of around six million dollars.

But now, there is no agreed health plan, and both the teachers and district negotiators must head back to the bargaining table.

"We will find out the ramifications and we certainly discussed the ramifications in closed session and there are a lot of risks some board members were willing to take, so we'll see," school board president Nancy Kalchbrenner said.

"I would hope teachers have enough concern about the students and the taxpayers in the community that they can come back and work out something that's equitable," board member Jay Nellis said.

Where does the district and teachers go from here? School board members are hopeful they will have some kind of plan in place to vote on at next Monday’s meeting.

The teachers were expected to begin their insurance enrollment this October, so time is a ticking.