In compromises, everybody wins a little and everybody loses a little.
So it is with Beekmantown Central School unions, who must be applauded for being willing to switch active employees’ health-insurance coverage to the less desirable for them — but less costly for the district — Plan B.
Retirees will remain on the more favorable Plan A, as they should, having been promised that coverage when they departed their jobs.
The agreement to change to Plan B, starting Jan. 1, 2014, was made through negotiations, which is where the compromising comes in.
Taxpayers will benefit from the switch, which new School Superintendent Daniel Mannix said will save the district more than 18 percent each year in health-insurance premiums.
Right now, Beekmantown Central School District is paying more than $6.4 million for Plan A, which was created by the Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington Schools Health Insurance Consortium.
Mannix wouldn’t put a dollar amount on the savings, saying that because the district agreed to refund certain employee health costs, he doesn’t have a specific number. He did characterize it as “significant, significant savings over the next four years.”
We hope district officials have a better knowledge about the exact figures than they are letting on; they certainly should, as they have now declared “significant savings” and will be held to that by taxpayers and the media.
Ron Moss, a biology/forensic science teacher and track coach who is president of the Beekmantown Teachers Association, noted that union membership was very supportive of the contract, voting 123 to 8 to approve it.
“The BTA is trying to be proactive, knowing the financial issues Plan 1 (Plan A) presents to the economic future of the Beekmantown District,” he said in a statement for the Press-Republican Editorial Board.
“By switching to Plan 2 (Plan B), we are trying to do what is best for all concerned by lowering the premium costs the district has to pay for our insurance coverage.”
The whole situation is being watched closely one community over, as Plattsburgh City School District, under pressure from taxpayers, considers whether to switch its active employees from Plan A to Plan B unilaterally — as in without negotiating the change.
We don’t think that will be necessary. The Plattsburgh unions are starting negotiations this month, and if they don’t see the writing on the wall, they aren’t looking closely enough.
Switching the Plattsburgh Teachers Association and Civil Service Employees Association members from Plan A to Plan B would save the district about $580,543 a year.
The unions will need to do that — for the taxpayers who pay their salaries and benefits, for the students who need more money directed to educational programs and for their own spirit of cooperation.
Beekmantown has led the way by switching to Plan B — and Plattsburgh will get an A for showing the same kind of community leadership.