L.A. school board approves three-year benefit package with some cost containment

The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved a three-year benefits package that contains some costs but falls well short of the savings that district officials say is needed to keep the school system solvent.

The 60,000 employees of L.A. Unified are not among the nation’s highest paid, but most enjoy comprehensive medical benefits for themselves and their families without paying monthly premiums. Such subsidies are rare in the workplace.

The package narrowly passed with support from four out of seven board members. Even board members who supported the agreement said they are concerned that the district’s budget could be careening toward a deficit, threatening programs for students.

The most important cost-saving step is that L.A. Unified will freeze the total annual amount it pays out of the general fund for healthcare benefits for the three years covered, 2018-20.

Under the agreement, the district will hold to the roughly $1.1 billion it currently pays for the benefits.

The freeze is intended to spare the general fund from having to absorb healthcare costs that have been rising more than 6% a year. Any additional costs will be covered by a healthcare reserve that has grown to about $300 million.

“For me there is great value in the containment of costs,” said school board President Monica Garcia, who voted yes along with George McKenna, Scott Schmerelson and Kelly Gonez. “We need good jobs and good schools.”  Click here to read more: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-edu-lausd-health-benefits-approved-20180213-story.html