Dallas Teachers Angry Over Insurance
Nov. 03, 2000
DALLAS (AP) _ Dallas teachers are demanding the removal of school board members over an administrative foul-up they say led to higher health insurance premiums that offset a recent pay raise.
Teachers had threatened a sickout Friday, but the number of those who who called in sick was not out of the ordinary, district officials said.
Many of the 19,000 employees of the 160,000-student Dallas school system are angry over a new insurance plan that takes effect Jan. 1. Administrators failed to negotiate a new contract or shop around for a new insurer, forcing the school board to accept the temporary plan.
Katrina Robertson Reed, associate superintendent for employee services, was placed on paid leave last week, though officials did not link that to the health insurance foul-up.
Roy Kemble, executive director of Classroom Teachers of Dallas, a union representing 2,200 teachers, said the union is looking into launching a recall of board members.
``They are entrusted with this school system and they failed,'' he said.
About 800 of the district's 9,800 teachers called in sick Friday. The average number of absences is 750 to 800, district officials said.
Kemble said there was no organized sickout, but at least one elementary school had to combine classes because of a teacher shortage.
Teachers, who earn a base salary of $41,800, got an average annual raise of $1,878 in the last contract.
The HMO Blue Texas plan will cost employees about $66 more a month for basic family coverage and $303.63 more a month for the most expensive family plan. The increase for basic family coverage would nearly halve the average raise, while more expensive coverage would more than offset it.
An employee who doesn't purchase family coverage would pay $19 less than before for the basic plan.
Teachesr have also complained that the district this week offered new superintendent Mike Moses a $280,000 base salary, believed to be the highest in the country.