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Education

Downers Grove District 58 board approves fund transfer to medical reserve fund

Mark White, a Downers Grove Elementary Education Association executive board member, makes a point July 9 while addressing the Downers Grove Grade School District 58 Board of Education.
Mark White, a Downers Grove Elementary Education Association executive board member, makes a point July 9 while addressing the Downers Grove Grade School District 58 Board of Education.

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Grade School District Board of Education on Aug. 13 agreed to transfer nearly $1.7 million from the education fund to the medical reserve fund.

The move comes about one month after members of the Downers Grove Elementary Education Association, the union that represents the teachers, criticized the board for transferring money from the medical reserve fund but not reimbursing the account.

District 58 is self-insured, and the medical reserve fund is used to pay claims.

The transfer of money from that fund has caused increases in health insurance premiums over the past few years, union executive board member Mark White said at the July 9 Board of Education meeting. The move also led union members to contend they are disrespected by the district and school board, he said.

The decision to transfer $1,662,179 from the unrestricted fund balance in the education fund to the medical reserve fund was made without comment from board members.

The move was well received by the union.

“The DGEEA is satisfied that regulation 3125 has been followed and the [medical reserve fund] balance has been restored to a safe level,” union President Craig Young said. “This helps restore trust after the administration misrepresented what that regulation required previously. We hope this is a sign of continued steps to restore our trust in the board and administration.”

The union and school district are in the midst of negotiating a new teachers' contract. Neither side will comment on the specifics of negotiations, but Superintendent Kari Cremascoli said at the Aug. 13 meeting the two sides have made “good progress,” and the district looks forward to finalizing a contract within the upcoming weeks.

Todd Drafall, the district's assistant superintendent for business, said the district each year analyzes the health of all of its funds.

"This is what we do," Drafall said. "This is what we're supposed to do. Every July this was looked at. This is a normal thing."

Last year, Drafall's predecessor, Dave Bein, told the board the medical reserve fund balance was "an area of caution," Drafall said.

Cremascoli said in July that "the medical reserve fund balance is reviewed and discussed at financial advisory committee meetings at least annually."

She had said the balance and expected claims for the 2018-19 school year would be reviewed "with consideration of a transfer to stabilize these declining fund balances in light of medical and prescription drug cost claims that are rising more rapidly than CPI and premium contributions."

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