18 residents call on CH-UH school district to fix health care spending

Our Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district is currently engaged in its most consequential contract negotiations in decades. The most important issue being debated: health care benefits. The problem: The current health care benefit package for CH-UH teachers is completely out of line with that of other school districts, and is costing CH-UH taxpayers millions of dollars more than other districts. The current contract is unsustainable.

Here are some examples:

  • CH-UH teachers pay 6% of their health care premiums with a $0 deductible.
  • Shaker Heights teachers pay 13% of their health care premiums with a $500/$1,000 deductible.
  • Beachwood teachers pay 15% of their health care premiums with a $1,500/$3,000 deductible.

What does that mean for taxpayers in Cleveland Heights and University Heights? The best way to look at this is to compare the average cost of health care plans for the CH-UH and Shaker Heights school districts:

  • CH-UH: $23,573 ($31,065 for a family plan; $11,506 for a single plan)
  • Shaker: $14,000 ($21,072 for a family plan; $7,956 for a single plan)

CH-UH schools have 820 employees on this plan, so for every $1,000 saved in per person health care costs, there is a potential $820,000 saved. If the CH-UH school district’s health care contract were similar to the Shaker school district’s health care contract, it could potentially save our taxpayers more than $7 million a year.

There is one more provision in the health care plan (at least) that needs to be addressed in the contract negotiations. Shaker schools have a provision that says if your spouse works and has a health care plan provided by their employer, your spouse cannot be on your school’s health care plan. CH-UH does not have such a provision. This is why Shaker has so many more single plans, and CH-UH has so many more family plans. Therefore, addressing this provision is also a key component to lowering costs.

This information is in no way meant to be punitive to teachers. Our teachers do a wonderful job educating our precious and deserving students. Our teachers deserve a competitive salary and benefit package. We simply want to get our spending on health care in line with other school districts so we can keep our property taxes reasonable. We want our current residents to stay here, and we want to attract new residents to our community. One way to do that is to be fiscally responsible with our precious tax dollars.

CH-UH teachers have almost the same salary schedule as Beachwood teachers ($44.5K to $105K), but our health care plans are vastly different. Beachwood’s would be far more expensive for our teachers. However, even changing our health care plan to something similar to Shaker’s would go a long way toward bringing our school district’s health care spending in line with other districts.

Yes, the cost to the district for EdChoice is a problem. But the cost of our health care plan is an issue we actually have some control over. So, to our school district officials we say, please negotiate a deal that is fair and in line with other school districts. And to our teachers we say . . . the same thing.

[This opinion was signed/endorsed by Patrick Akers, Bonnie Bolitho, Bob Brown, Rhonda Davis Lovejoy, Sue Dean Dyke, Susan Efroymson, Jo Fox, Len Friedson, Mike Knoblauch, Sam Kohn, Karin Lash, Susan Miller, Carla Rautenberg, Jack Richard, Joy Roller, Richard Thompson and Paul Volpe, in addition to Tony Cuda.]

Tony Cuda

Tony Cuda is a longtime Heights resident, as are the other 17 signees.

Read More on Opinion
Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:37 AM, 08.18.2020