This blog represents my opinions and my opinions alone, and certainly doesn't represent the collective thoughts of any of the Boards or organizations that I serve on. Unfortunately I make all sorts of miistakes, I'm a picky eater, I can't sing and I just recently found out I have been spelling certain words in my vocabulary wrong my entire life. That being said, I still continue to muddle ever onward. Welcome.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Journal Sentinel Piece On The Milton School District


How Milton schools saved a bundle - of your money

Patrick McIlheran
Dec. 1, 2010

Bernie Nikolay should be happy. His school district - he's the superintendent in Milton - had a good November. The girls swim team won the state title, a first for Milton girls athletics. And an arbitrator said the district could switch health coverage away from the insurer owned by the teachers union. That'll save the district as much as a million bucks a year.

For a district with a $33 million budget, that's cheery. For the rest of the state, it means a tide may have turned.

It could mean the end to the costly market dominance of WEA Trust, the health insurer owned by the Wisconsin Education Association Council. Just under two-thirds of Wisconsin districts use WEA Trust, a puzzling preference since its coverage is so costly.

Districts that buy WEA Trust plans average $1,665 a month for family premiums, according to their state association, while those choosing other carriers average $1,466. The difference is greatest where taxpayers cover the whole premium.

Milton was paying $48,301 more in premiums for every month that it couldn't switch from WEA Trust to a pair of plans from Madison-based Dean Health and Janesville-based MercyCare that it said were comparable. The district already had switched its administrative staff, said Nikolay, and while the union objected that the new plans would restrict choices, most teachers already used doctors at Dean or MercyCare clinics, Nikolay noted. "That made it less problematic for a lot of our families."

And it saved a bundle for a district saddled with "bleak local economic conditions," as its arbitration case put it. It is losing students and, thus, state aid. The area is losing population. The district needed to control premiums, and the arbitrator agreed.

Read the rest of the article here.


  1. Is health insurance providers a problem for this district? I thought we were in the state pool, not with WEA?

    Aren't our issues going to arbitration quite different than Milton's?

  2. This author's accusation that WEA Trust is more costly simply isn't true. Recently the WEA Trust was chosen by the Wisconsin Group Insurance Board to be in the State Group Health Insurance Program in 24 counties. Further, it was selected as a Tier One option, the lowest cost tier in the state plan.

  3. Can our District save a bundle of our money too?

  4. Sorry about the hijack, but why aren't school board packets available online? As you can see,, they haven't been updated since last spring.

  5. They should be and are back-logged. It's a pretty laborious project, having to scan in each page and then posting. My guess is that our district office staff is probably working on higher-priority items right now, not that they shouldn't be posted, but I know they aren't lacking for work up there.

  6. To the first poster, our issues are definitely different than the Milton School District; my point was that the arbitrator took the district's financial situation into consideration in making the decision.

  7. Health care benefits, pension benefits, retirement age, etc of the MGSD should be brought into line with what the private sector is making. Of course, most private employers no longer provide pensions - they can't afford to. Neither can MGSD. And most private employers, if they even offer it, cover only a modest portion of their employees health care cost. And most working people, at least the ones that work 12 months out of the year, can't possibly even begin to consider retirement at 50 or 52 years of age.

    The gravy train that teachers ride on MUST be stopped - just like the moderate speed, Milwaukee to Madison, Doyle choo-choo train.

  8. I'm no fan of the teacher's union but I don't think very many of them retire at 50 or 52. That sort of exaggeration is not helpful to a rational discussion of the issues. They are not on a gravy train either. Spend a few hours in the classroom with kids and you'll soon come to believe they earn the middle class incomes they have.