North Putnam board caught off guard by insurance hike
BAINBRIDGE -- A tumultuous 2011-12 school year is now over for the North Putnam school corporation, but it is still paying for some of the problems that occurred.
The North Putnam School Board voted to approve an insurance bid on Thursday for $249,755.50, nearly double last year's cost.
Insurance for 2011-12, which runs out at the end of August, was $138,466.
"I've never, ever delivered an increase like that," said John Parmley, vice president of HBG Insurance, the school's insurance agent.
Parmley said HGB searched hard, but was only able to find one insurance company willing to make a bid to be the school's carrier.
The school was notified it would be dropped by its last carrier, Indiana, in July.
A number of issues were cited for the increased cost.
Parmley noted that a number of mishandled workers compensation claims, increased property value, and a lack of fire suppressing sprinklers in the middle school and high school.
The board and administration seemed especially concerned about the inability to attract any other insurance carrier.
"The lack of interest in quoting this concerns me," board vice president John Hays said.
He suggested that when the insurance is up again next year, that the board act sooner to give more time for insurance providers to examine the school and submit bids.
"We need to be proactive and correct some of those things," North Putnam superintendent Dan Noel said. "A number of people came in and requested information, and we heard nothing back from them."
Despite the significant increase, the board members felt they had no choice but to accept the offer.
Board member Ollie Haste summed up their position.
"So the vote is on whether or not we want insurance," he said.
The board declined options for earthquake and flood insurance, which cost $2,000 but carried a premium of $1 million.
As if the increased insurance fee was not enough, the school also backed into a gas bill for the middle school/high school of about $5,500 for July.
A typical gas bill in the summer, Noel said, is around $200.
Board member Charlie Boller said the bill was unacceptable, stating several weeks had passed before the problem was rectified. He cautioned that there could be another large fee coming next month.
"There was a substantial amount of time between when there was a problem and when anything was done about it," he said. "We knew there was a problem because Roachdale called immediately."
After an investigation, it was discovered that there is a leak in the gas line that heats the swimming pool.
A new part was malfunctioning, which caused gas to run constantly instead of only when it was needed for heating.
The gas has since been turned back on and there is no danger to students, Noel said.
This was not enough to satisfy Boller.
"Nothing gets done, and nothing happens to the people that don't do the correct things," he said. "You can quote me on that."