School board shells out for insurance, approves committees

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The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees approved both the charters and initial memberships for a community budget advisory committee and a school safety task force and approved a new insurance plan that will more than double its old commercial property insurance premiums during its first official meeting of the school year. The board also approved several technology updates at the meeting.

The commercial property insurance policy the board approved costs a yearlong total of $2.9 million in premiums, with separate $39,475 boiler/machinery and $30,500 terrorism and sabotage policies. The insurance policy is provided through several firms, which are coordinated by the USI insurance group.

“No single insurance company is willing to assume the risk of the entire coverage package that the district needs,” district CFO Mike Ball said. “I believe there are 19 insurance companies participating in the layered coverage that the district has been presented with.”

Last year, the district paid just $1.3 million to AIG for the same coverage, but AIG dropped the school district on May 29 due to large claims from recent hailstorms. This was more or less the last second for the district — Ball explained that it left a very short amount of time to find a new insurer, and the USI bid was the only proposal that fit all of the district’s needs, so they had to approve it.

Ball said the district viewed this as a one-year deal, and that they would pursue next year’s insurance policy starting around January, which will give the district enough time to pursue a better deal. Board member Tracy Scott Miller voiced his displeasure with the situation as he and his colleagues approved the deal.

“This is a major disruption for us,” he said. “That amount of money we’re talking about comes out of the classrooms. It doesn’t come out of the bond package, and so it’s important that we figure out a way to try and get that back.”

The board formed two new committees at the meeting — the community budget advisory committee and the school safety task force. The community budget advisory committee was initially suggested by superintendent Kevin Rogers in April to give the community input into what programs LISD could cut in the event that they need to reduce spending. The initial 38-person committee includes eight area bankers, 10 area financial executives, eight LISD teachers and principals and seven other board nominees.

The school safety task force, composed of 44 parents and LISD staff members as well as students from all LISD high schools and police from all municipalities LISD touches was a bit more difficult to approve. Board member Katherine Sells immediately asked whether or not the proposed members had a background check, and moved that the board approve the charter and recommended members conditional on them doing so. After more discussion, board member Allison Lassahn asked if it was legal for LISD to require a background check, and district legal counsel Jeff Crownover didn’t want to answer publicly. He and the board eventually went into closed session in the middle of the vote to talk about it.

When the board came out of closed session, Sells withdrew her motion, and submitted another more carefully worded motion, approving the charter and recommended members who have passed a background check satisfactory to the school district no later than the date of the first meeting.

The roster and charter for both committees can be found in the background material.

An agenda item to hire Cushman and Wakefield as the district’s real estate broker was tabled. LISD officials discussed at length last week and in prior months whether or not it needs a real estate broker to help get rid of more than 300 acres of undeveloped property accumulated over the years, which is divided into several parcels ranging from 3 to 78 acres. Board members said they were torn between wanting the expertise of experienced brokers and not wanting to pay for it when that expertise may already exist within the district.

During the meeting’s public comment section, two McKamy Middle School parents who live in the Wichita Chase neighborhood complaining that they did not have a bus route that served the neighborhood. They were both optimistic that the district would address the issue.

The LISD Board of Trustees holds regular meetings usually on the second Monday of every month, with other informational meetings throughout. The board will next meet Aug. 27 to discuss and potentially pass the fiscal year 2019 budget, a draft of which can be viewed online. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10.

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