I stopped at the Lyndhurst Board of Education meeting last night, September 30. I really wanted to understand the substance of the debate over Lyndhurst Board of Education’s decision to enroll in the state-run plan for employees’ healthcare insurance benefits.
My main take away from the rambling explanation from the state monitor, Mr. Egan, unaided by written explanatory documentation for those in attendance, was that the Lyndhurst BOE’s decision to switch to the state health insurance plan was rooted in the financial exposure of the current BOE self-insurance system to an extraordinary claim, or a larger than expected number of claims in a given year. Another major factor cited was the price paid under the current plan for opting out of BOE insurance under the self-insurance plan ($13,500) vs. the cap placed on opt-out payments under the state plan ($5,000).
I think most know the recent demands placed on the current BOE self-insurance system, and why. Because healthcare and individual insurance claims are without question a legal privacy issue first, I won’t go into more details than that. And we all know the issues well that have contributed to the Lyndhurst BOE being forced to look anywhere for every dime of loose change.
Aside from newly elected Trustee Frank Ferrandino, no one on the BOE had much to say about the switch. As an insurance broker himself (privately, not associated with the Lyndhurst BOE) Ferrandino tried to explain the variables involved. He received a smattering of boos from the couple of hundred BOE employees and citizens in attendance. Good try being frank, Frank. Even though you didn’t create this problem, it’s called being between a rock and a hard place.
The other Trustee who spoke on the subject was longtime BOE member Stephen Vendola. Trustee Vendola apologized to all in attendance for being legally barred from being able to cast a vote on changing insurance. Mr. Vendola often can’t vote on the BOE as a result of having multiple family members employed by the Lyndhurst BOE.
This only begs the question: Why is Vendola running yet again this year? But I digress.
It wasn’t so much what was said by the BOE last night, as what was not.
The Lyndhurst Education Association has taken repeated hits since Lyndhurst’s $4.5 million Schools deficit exploded over the last couple of years. As a result, they have endured layoffs of qualified BOE staff, followed by “politically motivated” hiring and now their health insurance coverage is being clipped too.
All of this is a disgrace, but there is one thing worse.
Before the vote, Jefferson School Principal Joseph Vastola stood and addressed the current BOE and said best what irks most folks with respect to this latest hit to BOE staff and their families: “responsibility has never been accepted by any person responsible for this”.
Ain’t that the truth.
Unlike the Lyndhurst BOE and the state monitor, Mr. Egan, The Lyndhurst Education Association did come armed with documentation to make their case. While the LEA’s case fell on deaf ears, I share the LEA’s written argument below so everyone can see the reality of the very real price being paid (once again) by underpaid and overworked staff as a direct result of Lyndhurst politicians whose nepotism and cronyism has enriched their friends and families at everyone else’s expense.