North Putnam board caught off guard by insurance hike

Saturday, August 18, 2012

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."

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  • Wow, a board member with some sense....Boller. Greencastle could use someone like you on their board.

    -- Posted by kbmom on Sat, Aug 18, 2012, at 9:28 AM
  • From the limited information provided in the article, it would appear that NP wasn't fully insured, in prior years. The Board needs to do more than simply look at the bottom line on a renewal. Just because you can accept or reject certain catagories of coverage it doesn't really mean that the coverages are optional, especially for a public school district.

    The article presents many other interesting questions, but I don't see the value in discussing the obvious.

    -- Posted by Gelt on Sat, Aug 18, 2012, at 4:35 PM
  • don't be satisfied to pay the insurance premium. Seek other bids. If the present agent wants to keep you, he'll be content to lower the amount of his profit. Don't wait until next year, look now!!

    -- Posted by Rainbow6 on Sat, Aug 18, 2012, at 5:16 PM
  • Summer help was too busy taking their smoke breaks on 900 North in their vehicles.....lots of taxpayers seen it during the summer.

    -- Posted by kubotafan on Sat, Aug 18, 2012, at 5:57 PM
  • "Nothing gets done, and nothing happens to the people that don't do the correct things," he (Boller) said. "You can quote me on that."

    Well at least somebody said it. Now only if the board members would realize that they have the power to make things happen. The board is at the top of the food chain ... from the superintendent down - they all are accountable to the board. Stop talking, stop protecting your personal agendas (football team, etc), and lay down the law. It gets old watching spoon fed adults nod their heads and do nothing.

    -- Posted by jorge on Sun, Aug 19, 2012, at 12:06 AM
  • If my insurance company dropped me and/or raised my rates, it would be because they had to pay out something (probably a large sum!). Based on the reasoning listed in this article - my question is, what had to be paid out? What "claims" were filed?

    -- Posted by momofboys on Sun, Aug 19, 2012, at 10:38 PM
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