Tribune-Courier News Reporter
With school administrators across the state challenged daily to be good stewards of financial resources, the Marshall County Board of Education made a decision last week which will trim nearly $70,000 from the system’s insurance expense.
The board agreed last Thursday to change insurance providers, a move which will save $69,984.
The board voted to move the school system’s property, fleet and liability insurance to the Insurance Center of Murray and Commonwealth Risk Solutions.
The company’s bid for the coverage, under carrier Wright Specialty, was $250,923, with current provider Peel and Holland bidding $320,907.
Marshall County Schools Finance Officer Jill Morris said price wasn’t the only factor that made the board choose the insurance agency out of Murray, but it was a big component.
“Price was a big factor, but they also had to be qualified and they needed to have worked with several other school districts, which is important – insuring a school district is different than insuring a business,” she said. “Out of the two bids we received, both met rating requirements,” said Morris.
Morris said there are few companies willing to insure school districts to begin with, which has always led to harder choices when it comes time for rebidding.
“In property insurance a change like this is significant, but we have had an excellent service provider for the past 13 years and we’re looking forward to our next relationship,” Morris said.
The Marshall County School district’s contract with Peel and Holland will end on June 30 and the contract with Insurance Center of Murray and Commonwealth Risk Solutions will begin July 1.
The contract is for a three-year term with each renewal granted one year at a time at the discretion of the school district – a rebidding process isn’t mandatory until the end of the contract.
In other business, Abby Griffy, Elementary Supervisor, shared with the board BRIGANCE and Winter MAP testing results, which indicate a high level of teacher effectiveness in Marshall County schools, but particularly at Jonathan Elementary.
BRIGANCE testing, which measures the skills of new kindergartners in five departmental areas: physical well-being, language, cognitive skills, self-help, and social-emotional skills, was first initiated in Kentucky last year. Data released recently indicates about 50 percent of incoming kindergarteners state-wide are unprepared for school.
“In our own schools those numbers vary,” said Griffy. “We’ve got schools that are way lower than that average and we have schools that surpass that average.”
Griffy told the board that Jonathan Elementary School’s kindergarteners tested at 63.3 percent being not ready for school and 36.7 percent being ready according to the BRIGANCE screener, but when the Winter MAP testing came around a few weeks ago the test results indicated those students had made remarkable improvements.
Ninety-four percent of Jonathan Elementary students met the benchmark standards for reading according to the Winter MAP testing, while 87 percent of them met the benchmark standards when it came to the math portion of the same test.
While the two tests are unrelated and present different sets of data, Griffy said when compared they indicate that Jonathan Elementary has students that are excelling at a higher rate with improvements being credited to teacher effectiveness and smaller class size.
“They are excelling more right now than any other kindergarten group in our county. They came in with the highest percentage of ‘not ready’ and now they are excelling and meeting the benchmarks with reading and math and you would think the opposite would happen,” she said
In contrast, Central Elementary, which had the highest percentage of “ready” kindergarteners at 67.7 percent, had scores of 92 percent reaching the reading benchmark for Winter MAP testing and had 68 percent reaching the math benchmark.
Benton Elementary had the median score out of elementary schools in the district with 54.6 percent of kindergarten students being ready.
“The BRIGANCE testing can’t tell us what we can change before a child comes to us, but it lets us know what we need to be prepared to do to help our kids once they start with us,” she said.