School board hears efforts to reduce Worker’s Comp claims, premium

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The risk manager for Picayune Municipal Separate School District Jerry Bounds and district Worker’s Compensation consultant Albert J. Betz of Wellington Assocs. Inc. of Gulfport described efforts to help the district reduce its Worker’s Compensation insurance premium by improving safety in the district and by closing some open claims from previous years.

Bounds told the board that it is one of only three school districts in the state to employ a risk manager and Betz said that has been taken into consideration by companies supplying Worker’s Compensation Insurance when they submit premium proposals to the district for insurance renewal.

Betz said the district’s experience modification factor is as high as it is because of the number of claims made in 2006 — 47 — and the number made in 2007 — 45 — was well as the reserves factors from those two years, which is the amount in estimated claims in Worker’s Comp cases that have not been closed. The third year included in figuring the modification factor is 2005 when there were four claims and there apparently are not cases still open from that year, according to a handout developed by Wellington and passed out to board members.

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“Some of those cases are just sitting in a file cabinet somewhere waiting for the adjuster to close them. We’re going to be pushing to close them,” Betz said.

The handout provided board members explained the modification factor and how it is figured and what can be done to lower it. Bounds and Betz said that a modification factor of 1.0 or lower is the goal of Bounds’ risk management program.

Bounds said he now accompanies employees who have an accident to the doctor and stays with them so that they know the district cares. He described a few of his efforts to reduce safety risk, such as placing a carpeted path for bus drivers across a potentially slick area at the bus barn and examining playground equipment for potential danger.

The board also recognized the newspaper staff at the Picayune Memorial High School and the Pride of the Tide dance team.

The high school has a newspaper for the first time in many years this year and board members said they hope that it becomes a continuing program at the school.

The Pride of the Tide has done well in recent competition, including taking a first place in the 4A “kick” competition at state competition. Team captain Alex Parker also took a first place in solo competition. The team hosts its own competition on Saturday, Jan. 31, at Picayune school district facilities.

Career and Technology Center director Christy Pinero asked the board for permission to seek grants through the Redesigning Education for the 21st Century program. The grants would provide $75,000 for equipment for the 7th grade career discovery classes and $90,000 for the 9th grade career discovery classes.

The board also accepted a grant of $2,000 from Pratt and Whitney for a Nicholson Elementary School science program.

In other matters, the board:

— Approved personnel matters.

— approved consent items, including a donation of approximately $5,000 in school supplies for Nicholson Elementary from World Vision.

— Approved the 16th Section Forest Management agreement with the state Forestry Commission.

— Approved the school improvement plan for Picayune Junior High School.

— Approved gifted program updates.

— Approved applying for the E-RATE Program.

— Approved purchasing clay for the infield of the high school baseball field.

— Waived auditorium rental fees.

— Rejected bids for obsolete buses and voted to put them up for public auction.

— Went into executive session.