Los Angeles Unified School District Board Adopts Budget That Preserves Employees’ Health Benefits
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board on Thursday voted 5-2 to approve a 2003-2004 budget that includes $90 million in reserve and other funds to cover the rising costs of employees' health benefits and eliminates furloughs for teachers that the board had already approved, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. "[U]nless drastic measures are taken," the increasing cost of health benefits and workers' compensation further raises the "possibility of financial insolvency," according to the Daily News. Although the budget includes a total of $103 million in spending reductions, a $25 million budget deficit still exists. Superintendent Roy Romer said that potential state budget cuts could result in a deficit of $400 million to $600 million in the next fiscal year. Romer had supported methods that would allow the district to reduce health care costs, warning that layoffs will be "inevitable" given the expected deficit. However, board member Jon Lauritzen maintained that benefit reductions would "further alienate" employees, the News reports (Gao, Los Angeles Daily News, 9/5). The Daily News does not include the total amount of the school district budget.
In related news, the Teachers Association of Norwalk-La Mirada and Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District last week agreed to a tentative contract that would require district employees in January to pay from $2 to $100 per month for health insurance, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. The share of costs paid for by employees -- which would depend on the plan they select and how many dependents they have -- would save the school district about $450,000, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Kim Stallings. School district employees previously have not paid health insurance premiums. The district has estimated that health insurance costs will increase from about $15 million to $16.1 million next year; it recently approved a $172.9 million budget. The tentative agreement still must be approved by the school board, teachers and noncertified employees, according to the Press-Telegram (Sprague, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 9/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.