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West Fargo School Board votes to forego early compliance of new health care insurance provisions

At the West Fargo School Board meeting Aug. 9, recommendations by the insurance committee to conform early to new national health reform measures were tabled for further discussion.

On Monday, changes from those talks were unanimously approved by the board.

Instead of instating early compliance with provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - which requires employer group health insurance plans to allow young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26 - the board voted in favor of not complying until the mandatory date of Sept. 1, 2011.

However, 22- to 26-year-olds currently on the district's insurance will be left on the plan, provided they don't have employer group insurance available elsewhere.

West Fargo Public Schools has health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield.

On Aug. 9, West Fargo School Board member Ben Koppelman had questioned the necessity of a $100,000 financial burden on the district and its taxpayers, as well as approximately $35,000 on employee premiums. He and board member David Olson pushed to table the issue until Aug. 23.

Besides noncompliance of PPACA until 2011, the revised recommendation of the insurance committee to the board included a 6.7-percent increase for health insurance funding levels and a two-percent increase for dental insurance. Vision insurance funding levels did not increase.

Title I, II funding drops

Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis will once again represent the West Fargo School District as it applies for Title I and Title II funding.

The district qualifies for Title I Part A, Title II Part A and Title II Part D, which help fund education to support student achievement toward meeting North Dakota's education standards.

Title I Part A will allocate more than $1,050,000 toward helping disadvantaged students meet these standards. This year's funding is approximately $20,000 less than last year, Dardis said, though there will be nearly $150,000 of carryover.

Title II Part A must be used for teacher and principal quality retention. West Fargo will get nearly $380,000 to help with class-size reduction and innovation education, Dardis said. A report issued by Dardis said the majority of the funds are used for salaries and benefits for elementary staff in order to reduce class size.

The sharpest drop in funding came in Title II Part D, which goes toward technology enhancement. Most of the $7,275 West Fargo Public Schools receives will fund a technology staff member's salary.

District moves forward on purchase of property

Also Monday, the West Fargo School Board moved forward on the purchase of land as a possible new location of an elementary school.

The land in south West Fargo is west of Veterans Boulevard and north of 32nd Ave. E.

The board approved a contract for the purchase of the property, which puts the price tag at $30,000 per acre for a net of 10 acres and not more than 12 acres, business manager Mark Lemer said.

The area of construction is set in the middle of a proposed dense residential and industrial development.

"It is an ideal location," superintendent Dr. David Flowers said.

The contract also states that the seller would get first dibs on buying back the land if the district somehow ended up not building on the site.

"We've encumbered a future board ... with the assumption that we will build," Lemer said.