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$3-million in salary raises approved in school budget

Published Sep. 29, 2005

The School Board approved new contracts for teachers and support staff workers Tuesday night and raised salaries for almost every employee in the district.

In a series of unanimous votes, the School Board approved new pay scales and salary adjustments intended to make jobs more competitive and to make sure that workers' pay is appropriate for their job duties. After months of background work, the School Board took less than 15 minutes to add roughly $3-million to its payroll. The employees affected include teachers, custodians, clerks, principals, district office administrators, substitute teachers and night school teachers. The contracts that the board approved for the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association and the Hernando United School Workers Union must still be ratified by union members. The teachers union is expected to take a ratification vote before school begins; the school workers union is expected to vote before the end of August.

School Board takes control of health plan

BROOKSVILLE _ The School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to break with traditional health insurance companies and begin making health care coverage decisions for itself, with the help of a Tampa firm that will handle the paperwork. The vote means the board will dump HIP Health Plans of Florida, the Hollywood company that has angered school workers and board members with its poor customer service and its poor relations with Hernando County's health care community.

Instead, the district will in effect become its own health insurance company. The School Board will have ultimate discretion over what types of medical procedures will be covered and what drug prescriptions will be paid for. The board voted to give Robey-Barber Insurance Services of Tampa a contract worth roughly $4-million to handle the paperwork, including keeping enrollment lists and negotiating with local health service providers. Approximately 1,600 school district employees subscribe to the district's health plan. And, because the district pays 100 percent of the premiums for individual coverage, insurance is a considerable expense that affects other budget areas. The district's current contract with HIP expires Dec. 31, but district officials say they will dump HIP and start their own operation much sooner, possibly as early as September.