Posted Date: 03/03/2020
Early College High School update
Lisa Witcher, senior executive director of Instructional Services – accompanied by a large cadre of students from the High School – provided the Board of Education with an update on the first cohort of students participating in the district’s Early College High School with Tulsa Community College.
“It is with great pride that we come before you with an update,” Witcher said. “With me tonight are representatives of the 32 students who are part of the first cohort who are in their junior year of high school who are taking 12 hours of college work. Once they complete this semester, they will have 20 hours of college completed. The second cohort of 35 students will have three hours of college credit after this semester.”
Junior Naomi Stevens was enthusiastic in her support of the program. “For me, the flexibility of Early College High School is one of the biggest aspects. I have a lot of things going on in my schedule. This semester, I’m taking 21 credit hours, which is over what is [typically] allowed. I really like school and I love learning, so I was given permission to do that.”
Abigail Ren, also a junior, said, “The flexibility of the program has enabled me to fit band into my schedule along with my Early College High School courses. We are grateful to Miss Witcher and the education team for helping us. I’m grateful to my student cohort, which has helped me get more comfortable with my peers. Obviously, we love saving time and money with the program, and it’s great to have an alternative to AP courses.”
Early College High School is a partnership between Union Public Schools and Tulsa Community College with special permission from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Students enroll in a rigorous college prep curriculum in ninth grade before entering Early College High School, which begins with an incremental course work in a predetermined degree plan in the tenth grade. Early College High School is a nationally recognized high impact practice for economically challenged, underrepresented populations, and first-generation college students. Early College High School courses are taught by TCC faculty. Students who complete the program receive both an associate degree and a high school diploma upon graduation.
Board approves plan to keep health insurance premiums at same rate
Union employees, retirees and others using Union Public Schools self-insured PPO medical indemnity plan will not see a rate increase in premiums that take effect in January for 2020.
Jay Loegering, executive director of Human Resources, recommended that the 2020 premium rates for the District's PPO plan remain at its current levels for employees, with an increase to the overall rate to capture the increase in FBA from the state.
Projected claims experience and prescription drug provider discounts support a flat premium for 2020, he said. Union's self-insured plans continue to be competitive with the State's Health Choice High medical plan, while benefits for Union's selfinsured PPO plan remain richer, and co-pays and deductibles remain lower in many areas. For comparison, Union employees covering their family on Union’s medical plan pay $6,574.44 less annually in premiums than other districts in Oklahoma, and have a lower deductible and lower out of pocket costs. This enables Union to be more competitive when recruiting employees, particularly when teachers are in short supply in Oklahoma.
Loegering outlined some changes in Union’s plan and recommended that the District pay the difference between the flexible benefit amount provided by the State and the single, employee-only coverage on the District's self-insured PPO plan as per the negotiated contracts for employee groups for full-time employees, starting with the December 2019 premium payments which prepay coverage starting January 2020. Union will remain with Delta Dental as a self-insured program as well.
In a related matter, Board members renewed its agreement with the University of Oklahoma to continue operating The Clinic through OU Physicians of Tulsa.
The insurance/clinic committee continues to receive high praise from employee patients regarding the care they are receiving from Dr. Connie Lane and for the services of the Clinic, in general, Loegering said. Employees express appreciation not only for the quality of services provided at the Clinic, but also the low copay, the opportunity to receive no-cost prescription medication, as well as the savings experienced when they utilize the ancillary services or direct contract facilities that the Clinic specifically suggests they consider such as Envision, Oklahoma Heart Hospital, and Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute.
Bradyn Powell named associate director of Child Nutrition
Bradyn Powell was appointed associate director of Child Nutrition. As Child Nutrition’s responsibilities and services have grown, she will assist Director of Child Nutrition Lisa Griffin in the management of the department.
The Child Nutrition Department plays a critical role in establishing a healthy school nutrition environment for the promotion of optimum health. In addition to providing nutritious meals in each school cafeteria, the Child Nutrition Department helps sets goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness.
Child Nutrition employs more than 150 professionals that include managers, team members, drivers, warehouse workers, and supervisors. Low cost, nutritious school meals are served to more than 16,000 customers every day and breakfast is offered in all schools.
In a related matter, the Board also accepted an award of $56,000 in apple slices and applesauce products (about 62,000 pounds) from Peterson Farms, Inc.
Board members approve several contracts, agreements
Board members on Monday approved several contracts and purchases which officials believe will benefit the district including the purchase of a new viral software program for $160,300 from Crowdstrike Falcon Anti-Virus.
This purchase will provide anti-virus software for 8,000 district computers, including the 1: 1 student laptops issued to students.
Other action approved, include: