Fact or Fiction: Increases to Osceola School District Employees' Salaries and Insurance Benefits
Fact or Fiction: Increases to Employees' Salaries and Insurance Benefits
Posted on 04/06/2018
Fact or Fiction Banner ImageEveryone has an opinion about the proposed increases to Osceola School District employees’ salaries and insurance benefits – as they should. Those opinions should be based on facts rather than misinformation or rumors. This portion of the Osceola School District website is to increase communication and ensure that accurate information is provided on the issue.

If you are hearing conversation about the topic and would like to determine whether the information is accurate, please CLICK HERE to submit a question. Your question will be posted along with a response providing an explanation or clarity to the question.
  • Topic: Increases to Osceola School District employees’ salaries and insurance benefits:

QUESTION: What is the district’s current proposal for insurance plan designs and premium increases? (posted 4/12)

FACT: Click Here to view the district's counter proposal.


  • FICTION: The district is not listening to concerns about health insurance.

  • FACT:
    The School Board has heard the concerns about health insurance increases loud and clear. The district bargaining teams have gone back to the table with OCEA twice since the April 3 Board meeting. (Wednesday, April 4, for support staff bargaining and Thursday, April 5, for teacher bargaining. OCEA provided a counter offer for salary and benefits on April 6, mid-morning, to the School Board's chief negotiator.   District staff is currently analyzing the financial impact of the counter offer in preparation for the next bargaining meeting.

    FICTION: The insurance proposal came from the School Board.    

  • FACT: The district’s insurance committee serves as a sub-committee of the Bargaining Leadership Team and consists of members of both management and each of the unions. The committee has met monthly throughout the year to collaboratively discuss the need for significant changes to the health plans and approved the proposed changes to move forward to the bargaining team on December 13, 2017. The proposed changes were first presented to the full bargaining teams in January 2018.

  • FICTION: Osceola County School Board Members receive annual salaries of $115,000 each.

  • FACT:
    The salaries of all School Board Members in every Florida county are fixed by state law, not arbitrary whim. Osceola County School Board Members receive an annual salary of $39,309, and is $791 less than our current teacher starting salary of $40,100.

  • o “Article II, Section 5(c) of the Florida Constitution, as revised in 1968, provides that the powers, duties, compensation, and method of payment of state and county officers [including School Board members] are fixed by law. [e.g., p. 15 of Salaries of Elected County Constitutional Officers and School District Officials for Fiscal Year 2017-18 (September 2017); Office of Economic and Demographic Research; http://edr.state.fl.us/Content/local-government/reports/finsal17.pdf ]    

    FICTION: Osceola County is top heavy in the number of administrators that it has.

  • FACT: Osceola County has historically maintained a very lean fiscally responsible organizational structure despite outstanding student enrollment growth. Osceola County is the thirteenth largest school district in the state in student enrollment. The Osceola School District has the lowest administrative cost per student in the state of Florida. Osceola County ranks fifteenth out of all 67 Florida school districts in our total number of administrators. Osceola County’s ratio of teachers to administrator is 17:1, ranking fourteenth statewide, while our ratio of students to teacher is 15:1, which ranks thirteenth statewide. These ranks are consistent and demonstrate Osceola County staffing levels are aligned appropriately.

  • o [Data retrieved from the Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Education Information Services; http://www.fldoe.org/accountability/data-sys/edu-info-accountability-services/pk-12-public-school-data-pubs-reports/staff.stml and http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7507/urlt/2015-16-EFAA-State-Summary.pdf

  • FICTION: In addition to the per student funding of $7,136.91 that was presented at the April 3 School Board meeting, Osceola is receiving $5.3 million more, which equates to an additional $900 per student.

  • FACT: Osceola is receiving $5,361,552 in a Funding Compression Allocation for fiscal year 2018-2019, which equates to $77 per student and is already included in the per student funding amount presented. In fact, 20% of the $5.3 million goes to charter schools.

  • o This data is straight from the FEFP 2018-19 1st Calculation, and can be found on the FLDOE website at http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7507/urlt/18191stCalculation.pdf

  • Questions we have received:


  • QUESTION: Is it true that if the insurance proposal is adopted, some teachers could pay almost half their salary for a family plan and support staff could possibly need to write a check to the School Board to keep their families insured?

  • FACT: The District will continue offering three plan options, including a zero cost plan for employees. Employees choosing to cover their spouse and/or children should pick the plan that best fits their needs and budgets. Both sides of the Bargaining Team are working collaboratively to try to negotiate plan changes with less of an impact for families.

  • QUESTION: Is it true that an employee who selects "Employee + Family" will pay approximately $1,200 a month on the proposed Local Plus Plan?

  • FACT: Yes, but both sides of the Bargaining Team are working collaboratively to try to negotiate plan changes with less of an impact for families. The District has absorbed the rising costs for employees who are purchasing insurance for their family members. Health care costs continue to exceed revenues, which means the District has fewer dollars to spend in other areas, such as teacher pay, if insurance plan changes are not made.

  • QUESTION: Is it true that a single paraprofessional with a child and 15 years of experience with the District will pay half of their yearly salary for proposed health insurance premiums?

  • FACT: Every employee wishing to cover their children will need to review the three plan options to select a plan that would fit their family if they chose to have insurance through the District rather than with another provider.

  • QUESTION: Has the District thought about putting out the amount of money per year that is being spent on health care in our county? The District has offered so many free resources to help with weight loss, quitting smoking, and other healthy habits. I feel like if all employees utilized these free resources more, we would spend a lot less on health care. People need to see that our own choices are a big part of the reason why our healthcare has become so much more expensive.

  • FACT: The District spends over $50 million in health care expenses annually. The District is extremely proud of the robust health and wellness initiatives/programs offered to employees, and encourages participation in them so that everyone maintains or adopts healthy lifestyles.

  • QUESTION: Are proposed increase in health care going to be the same for retired teachers on a fixed income with no income increase?

  • FACT: Health insurance plans are subject to bargaining. The District is currently in negotiations with the union to establish new rates for the upcoming year. Once negotiations are complete, any changes to the plan options and insurance rates will be communicated to all employees and retirees. We do expect retiree premiums to also increase. There is retiree representation on the Insurance Committee, as the President of the Retired Teachers Associations serves in this capacity.


  • QUESTION: When is the last time the insurance trust fund had an independent audit with the purpose of looking for discrepancies? How much money does the employee clinic cost each year? Has there been an independent survey within the district to determine satisfaction of service? What sources of revenue provide money to the health insurance trust? What is the balance of the trust? Who chooses the members of the bargaining team and insurance Committee for the district? How much is paid to the current insurance representative and the company they represent each year? How many salaries are paid from revenue related to the health insurance trust?

  • FACT: The Department of Insurance Regulation requires all self-insured employers to maintain a minimum fund trust fund balance equal to two months of claims expenses. Our district spends over $50M annually in claims costs; therefore, we must maintain a fund balance of at least $8.5M.

    The trust fund is audited annually by external auditors.

    The current year budget for the Center is $3.6M.

    All patients are surveyed at the conclusion of their visit. Results are shared with the School Board monthly.

    District board contributions and employee premiums fund the insurance trust.

    The projected ending fund balance of the health insurance trust as of June 30, 2018 is $7.7M.

    The membership of the bargaining teams are selected by district management and union leadership. The insurance subcommittee consists of members who represent each bargaining team.

    The district is self-insured, and our insurance consultant, who is selected through an RFP process, is funded through supplemental insurance commissions with no direct funding from the district.

    The health insurance trust fund does not pay any salaries.
    QUESTION: If the district is looking to retain teachers year after year, then why not have the bonus separate from raises and health insurance negotiations. It seems a lot of time and effort was put into surveying current teachers and yet we will see no reward for continued loyalty if we go to impasse.

  • FACT: All employee compensation is subject to bargaining. This includes bonuses, raises, and benefits.

    QUESTION: Will employees have to pay for their health insurance starting in October?
    FACT: The current proposal still includes a zero-cost option for employee coverage.

QUESTION: Has the district looked at buying health insurance for employees verses being self-insured? If so, why does it not seem like a better option.

FACT: If the district were to shop for health insurance, proposals would be based on our historical and current claims experience. Insurance company proposals would be priced to ensure they’d cover the cost of our claims plus the industry trend increases each year. Being self-insured allows us flexibility to control our own dollars in both good years and bad. Fully-insured programs are designed where the insurance company ultimately makes a profit which would translate into higher costs for the district. Only three district in the Central Florida region remain fully insured, and our current and proposed premiums are competitive with theirs.      

Question: I noticed on the pay scales are "steps" that show a increase in pay. But I am told they are no longer used. Why is this and has it ever been discussed to going back to this pay scale?

FACT: The law changed in 2011 and “steps” no longer apply. Salary increases are negotiated each year and are dependent on available funding.

Question: What can we, as a community, parent and fellow employee do to help the district find more funding or help Osceola receive more funding from the state to increase employee pay, lower the cost of benefits and give more to our schools for student education. If we are to the point where the district is truly at a standstill with funding what needs to be done to overcome these issues with funding?

FACT: All members of the community can reach out to Legislators and share their desire to have public education funded at a level that would allow for higher compensation to teachers and other district employees. We can all make choices to become more cost-effective consumers of healthcare services; the district will be sharing suggestions and tips in the near future.

Question: Is there a retention bonus of $1000.00 being offered or is it off the table?

FACT: Management’s original proposal included a non-recurring supplement of $1,000 for teachers and $500 for support staff, along with increases to health insurance premiums to cover the rising cost of healthcare. Based on feedback received from the public and OCEA, management has offered a counter proposal which would move the non-recurring supplement money directly into the health insurance fund in order to significantly reduce the increase in health insurance premiums for next year.

Question: What percentage of employees currently have a family member covered under insurance? I am concerned that those of us that do not pay for insurance may be continually losing out on a raise simply because of the few who choose to pay for insurance.

FACT: 22% of all district employees are electing spouse, child(ren), or family coverage.

Question: Why was the $1000 recurring bonus for teachers and $500 for paras removed from the new proposal? It has been said that this money has been moved to the insurance fund to help lower premiums for employees with families. Increased premiums only affect 1/3 of the district employees who insure their spouse or family. How is that fair to employees who are single or insuring only themselves? School board bargaining offers should be fair and equitable.

FACT: The $1000 for BLT and $500 for ESP that was included in the district’s original proposal was a non-recurring supplement. In response to OCEA’s concerns about the proposed increases in health insurance premiums, the premium increases were reduced in the district’s counter proposal. Without the forecasted revenue from the original premiums, additional money must be put into the health fund. The non-recurring supplement money would go into the health fund under this proposal.

The School Board always strives to be as fair and equitable as possible. Salaries and benefits are negotiated with the unions each year. This proposed change was in direct response to concerns expressed by OCEA with the original proposal.

Question: Does the district think that raising the time commitments and expectations of educators without offering increased wages will attract/retain highly qualified educators?

FACT: The district holds high expectations for all employees to serve our students with excellence. Salary offers are based on available funding. Recruitment and retention are top priorities and are included in Goal 2 of the district’s strategic plan.

Question: Is it the districts idea to offer temporary supplements instead of putting funds toward raising salaries?

FACT: No. The district is offering a 2% recurring salary increase for the 2018-19 year.

Question: What is being done to simplify the observation process? As of right now there are very few teachers or administrators who understand how to calculate VAM scores or how they fit into teacher rating. Anything relating to bonuses and ratings should be clear and easily understood.

FACT: A subcommittee of the bargaining teams has been meeting throughout the school year to recommend revisions to our evaluation framework; during mediation last week, both sides continued to continue those conversations, as we hope to reach agreement through a Memorandum of Understanding to convert to a mastery-based system utilizing Marzano's simplified teaching map. VAM calculations are provided by the state; the VAM model was developed through collaboration with stakeholders from across the state, including teachers, in 2011.

Question: What is being done to compensate teachers for all of the overtime that we put in throughout the year?

FACT: The district offers a competitive salary and benefits package, which is based on available funding.

Question: Would the board be willing to contact three insurance companies to get quotes to cover your employees with comparable plans in order to compare the prices to your new proposal? If you are willing to do this, employees would love to see it posted on this fact or fiction site and in an e-mail from Dr. Pace in order to see if your proposal is the best option available.

FACT: In order to evaluate our options of moving to a fully-insured health insurance program, the district would have to go through a formal RFP process to solicit proposals and pricing through a competitive bid process. This process would take several months.

In 2017, the district conducted an RFP to be sure our health plan remains competitive; CIGNA was the recommendation of the RFP selection committee to continue as both our medical and pharmacy third party administrator, based on analysis of rates and services.

Based on continued analysis from our consultants and our knowledge of the insurance marketplace, it is not in the district’s best interest at this time to pursue a fully-insured health insurance program.

Question: Up until 2015, some reproductive services such as unlimited IUI procedures were covered by the same CIGNA insurance. Now, just two full school years later, every reproductive service available is not covered one bit. Why the change for family planning and reproductive services? What would be the average cost for a female employee having a child under the "free" employee option?

FACT: Please contact the Risk & Benefits Management Department to discuss your specific coverage.

Question: Is it possible for non union members to form their own group and enter negotiations when you feel that the union does not represent us all?

FACT: Positions falling under a specific union cannot split apart and form a separate union (ex. you couldn’t have two separate teachers unions). However, your voice matters to members of the School Board and management team. We will continue to update this website with additional information as questions are submitted.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2020 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.