2015 Collaborating for Change Contest Entries

Three school districts entered the Collaborating for Change Contest, held during the 2015 Accounting Conference. Ashwaubenon School District was voted the winner by conference attendees. Below are the three entries.

Ashwaubenon School District

Submitted by:
Keith Lucius, Assistant Superintendent

What was the issue you were trying to solve?
The swimming pool at Ashwaubenon High School is only 5 lanes and does not have sufficient deck space to host swim meets. In addition the pool was built over 50 years ago, so there are concerns that it would not be repairable if something broke. The District tried for a replacement pool through referendum, but the referendum failed. A significant factor in the failure of the referendum was that the District is negatively tertiary aided at 50%. The voters did not want to pay a 50% aid penalty for building a swimming pool. Additionally, similar size and age issues existed in the auditorium at the High School. We had parent groups asking the School Board to bring both projects to referendum. The School Board was hesitant to go to referendum because of the negative aid issue.

What was the proposed plan to address the issue?
The parent groups that requested a referendum prepared usage studies for the pool and auditorium. Based on the usage studies, it was clear that both facilities were used by the community more than the District. Since the Ashwaubenon School District is completely located within the boundaries of the Village of Ashwaubenon, we decided to talk with the Village about holding a referendum to build the facilities.

How was the plan implemented?
After several long meetings, the Village Board approved a referendum on the facilities. The new facilities will be attached to the High School. In order to share the cost, the District will maintain and operate the facilities, while the Village will borrow the money to build them. In April of 2014 the referendum passed with over 60% of the community supporting the projects. The strong support for the referendum was great. In addition, we (District and Village) have received many comments from community members regarding how much they appreciate the District and Village working together to meet the needs of residents in the most cost effective way.

How did it solve the problem?
We believed that the community supported the projects. The big reason that the community rejected the previous referendum was the negative tertiary aid impact related to the District borrowing for the construction. In addition, it brought awareness to the fact that these facilities are used by more than just the District. They are community facilities that happen to be maintained by the District. I think community members really want to see different government units work collaboratively and they supported the projects because they felt both the Village and District were working to find the best solution.

What was saved? Or what new funds were generated?
The taxpayers saved 50% on the principal and interest on the $17 million in bonds over 20 years. In addition, this has lead to added sharing of services between the Village and the School District that will provide tax savings and additional services.

New Lisbon School District

Submitted by:
Dennis Birr, Superintendent

What was the issue you were trying to solve?
Increase revenues, maximize categorical aid.

What was the proposed plan to address the issue?
In New Lisbon, we have quite a few married couples who are both employed by the district. We have changed health and dental insurance to make sure they are in the name of the person whose salary and benefits are eligible for aid.

How was the plan implemented?
For instance, the guidance counselor and school nurse costs are eligible for special education categorical aid reimbursement, so we made sure the health and dentail insurance were in their name instead of their spouses’. We do the same thing with those whose costs are Medicaid eligible, such as special education, nursing and secretarial staff.

How did it solve the problem?
We increased our categorical and Medicaid revenues.

What was saved? Or what new funds were generated?
We increased our aid about $12,000 over the past year in these categories.

School District of Elmbrook

Submitted by:
Lori Golomski, Benefit Insurance Coordinator

What was the issue you were trying to solve?
Provide convenience and cost savings to insured employees, retirees and their families as well as the District’s health insurance budget.

What was the proposed plan to address the issue?
To add an Elmbrook medical clinic for use by all insureds of the Elmbrook School District.

How was the plan implemented?
  1. Visit model, discuss timeline, medical staffing, in-house pharmacy and review cost savings and funding/budget with employers who have existing medical clinics.
  2. Discussions to find if other entities are interested in partnering
  3. Enlist Benefit Consultant to submit a Request for Information to vendors
  4. Interview vendors meeting criteria on RFI
  5. Form a committee of board, administration, staff, benefit consultant and community members
  6. Develop expected criteria and anticipated outcomes for clinic and vendor
  7. Narrow vendors to those meeting anticipated District needs
  8. Submit a Request for Proposal to vendors
  9. Second interview for vendors – requesting deeper set-up, operations, financial and ongoing/future data
  10. Visit clinics specific to qualifying vendor
  11. Determine location – within existing District property (build out) or lease option
  12. Review timeline, clinic details, hiring of medical staff to meet goals
  13. Determine accounting and next year budget
  14. Review Wellness Assessment (Health Risk Appraisal) and wellness opportunities to be conducted through clinic
  15. Discuss Open House, Communication and on-going promotion strategies
  16. Review coordination of clinic services with existing health plans
  17. Develop a format to capture data to show savings and ROI
How did it solve the problem?
The goal is to reduce medical costs to both the District and the insured members, develop relationships between the medical personnel and staff to attain wellness results, provide convenient location and hours for care, and attract and retain outstanding staff.

What was saved? Or what new funds were generated?
Savings will be the reduction in increase or lowered self-funded health insurance costs while offering an enhanced benefit to the insureds.