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By Juan Montoya

One day before the Brownsville Independent School District board of trustees is set to vote to approve a new employee health plan calling for steep increases over the next three year to offset a $13 million deficit, teacher and employees protested across the street from the main offices to show their displeasure with the plan.

The trustees in the insurance committee have called a special meeting to discuss the cash flow on the plan before the are set to meet for a special meeting called for 12:00 noon at the main office. They will take public comment and vote whether to recommend the plan’s approval to the full board following their special meeting at 5:30 p.m. later that evening.

The trustees on the insurance committee are Carlos A. Elizondo, Chair, Cesar Lopez, and Laura Perez-Reyes.

Teacher association representatives say they will have a hard time getting anyone to attend the public comment section of the insurance committee because they will be working.

“They called the insurance meeting for 12 noon when everyone is working,” said Alberto Alegria, president of the Texas Valley Educators’ Association TVEA). “It’s doubtful that I will be able to make it.”

In previous meetings, Alegria and Patrick Hammes, Association of Brownsville Educators (AOBE) have voiced their opposition to the plan saying that it will make health insurance unaffordable for most BISD classified employees making less than $47,000.

Alegria said that as a teacher – a certified employee – he is in the $47,000 to $93,000 salary range and will have to pay $100. Classified employees making less will be required to pay $50 a month.

The district estimates that those BISD employees making less that $47,000 yearly constitute 58 percent of BISD employees. Those above that figure covered by the plan make up 42 percent of BISD employees.

Up until this year, the BISD had paid the full cost of health insurance to its employees and did not require the $50 or $100 payments. Employees paid a deductible for emergency room visits and co-payments for prescription drugs.

The district has two pay grades for its employees, certified such as teachers and administrators, and classified, teacher’s aides, maintenance, etc.

“Imagine that over a year,” he said. “That means they will have to pay $600 a year out of their pay.”

Under the plan, in order to make up the BISD’s self-funded plan deficit through higher premium charges, Alegria that the administration’s proposal calls for a $88.92 increase for an employee who sadds his spouse to the coverage. For example, the current monthly premium paid by a BISD teacher to cover his/her spouse is $276.82 a month. Under the proposed plan, that will increase by the $88.92 for the 2017-2018 school year to $365.74.

The following two years will see an additional $88.92 per month to increase it to $454.66 a month for the 2018-2019 school year, and $543.58 per month for the 2019-2020 school year. In a fact sheet circulated to BISD employees, the district says that only 218 BISD certified employees (3 percent) have elected to cover their spouses. Annual costs are:


2016-2017: $3,321.84 (currently)

2017-2018: $4,388.88

2018-2019: $5,455.92

2019-2020: $6,522.96

BISD administrators say that while teachers with spouses covered under the plan pay the $276.82 per month currently, the district is running a $266.75 deficit per employee and wants to make up the deficit over the next three years.

The same goes for employees who have their family covered by the district’s plan. Only 6 percent of employees chose this plan (372 employees) because of its cost. They pay $462.96 a month for the coverage, which will increase by $74.37 a month to $537.33 per month this year, to $611 per month for the 2018-2019 school year, and to $686.07 by the 2019-2020 school year.

The BISD claims it is running a monthly deficit of $223.11 on the 372 employees under this plan.


2016-2017: $5,555.52 (currently)

2017-2018: $6,647.96

2018-2019: $7,340.70

2019-2020: $8,232.84


The district also proposes to increase the emergency-room room deductible from $150 co-pay to a $500 co-pay claiming that the higher co-pay will deter non-emergency usage by BISD employees.


At the demonstration across the street from the main office, some protesters waved signs with slogans against Salazar Insurance and United Health Insurance.

jmon at 7:45 PM